When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States, Kent Corporation—an Iowa-based food and beverage manufacturer—was ready. In fact, the company had been ready for 11 years.
Back in 2009, Kent Corporation implemented a pandemic response protocol. Prepared by the company’s own human resources group, it was designed to help the company find solutions to novel problems, implement procedures and distribute information internally within the company.
A fast start: According to Chairman and CEO Gage Kent, having that method on the shelf helped the company spring into action. It quickly formed a 100-person pandemic response team and came up with protocols to keep employees safe and the business running. The company also made use of the NAM’s information resources, which it said were “key” throughout the pandemic.
Its protocols have included:
- Reconfiguring workspaces to allow more space between employees;
- Adjusting traffic flow through the company’s facilities and buildings to improve social distancing;
- Platooning employees by bringing them in and out of the facilities in segmented groups, to prevent or track potential infections and mitigate the impact of any outbreak;
- Using IT platforms that allow anyone who can work from home to do so;
- Conducting temperature screenings, which include checks at the gate for everyone who comes in;
- Promoting “Safety at Home” standards, which encourage employees to take precautions in their own homes just as they do at work; and
- Constantly communicating to keep employees informed during the pandemic.
Helping the response effort: In addition to its essential work in the food and beverage industry, Kent Corporation also makes high-quality alcohol that can be used for pharmaceuticals and COVID-19 sanitation purposes—including in hand sanitizer, wipes and other surface cleaners.
Recognized for excellence: In May, Kent Corporation was named as a 2020 U.S. Best Managed Company—an award by Deloitte Private and The Wall Street Journal that recognizes private-company success based on strategy, execution, culture and financials.
The last word: “We have a culture of trying to live our core values: honesty, safety, quality and timeliness,” said Gage Kent. “We want all our stakeholders to be happy with the way we operate—our shareholders, our customers, our employees and our community. We want to be able to achieve that today, just as we have worked to achieve it on a daily basis for 93 years.”