CHICAGO (CBS) — All businesses are having to adjust to life in the coronavirus world, and that includes manufacturers, where employees often need to work side-by side.
CBS 2’s Lauren Victory on Friday took us inside a Chicago car accessory company charging both what they make and how they make it.
Security was tight just to get into the lobby of Gold Eagle. They needed our information and body temperature.
That is because the bustling factory is no stranger to COVID-19. At least five employees have tested positive so far.
“My mom had it first. Two days, later I got it. Two days later, my boyfriend had it,” said Claribel Cana-Aviles, a machine operator at Gold Eagle.
The domino effect had Cana-Aviles worried about her other family – her work family.
“It broke my heart thinking that I could’ve done something to them, but thank God I didn’t,” Cana-Aviles said.
The five-year veteran stayed home an extra week after the doctor cleared her.
Marc Blackman, chief executive officer of Gold Eagle, was careful to clarify the source of the company’s cases.
“At least on four of them, they come from the outside,” he said.
But Blackman was also careful in how he kept the wheels greased at the third-generation family business – from social distancing on the production line to wearing masks at all times.
Constant hand cleaning is also a must, and everyone gets a fever scan not one, but twice a shift.
“Also, where we couldn’t separate folks for more than six feet, we put Plexiglas in the middle of packing stations, labeling stations,” said Gold Eagle operations manager Jesse Stutler.
“The CDC also has provided great guidance,” Blackman said. “We have taken what we’ve learned from those best practices and we’ve evolved them.”
One change is the setup for the area to clock in. First, tape denoted a six-foot distance from coworkers, but now, everyone just uses an app.
How much of what has changed does Blackman think will be lasting? He doesn’t know yet.
But for the time being, the automotive additive manufacturer is mostly churning out hand sanitizer.
It’s called Heroes, named after essential workers – including the ones on the very line making it.
Heroes Hand Sanitizer is sold in bulk to hospitals. Gold Eagle is operating at about 80 percent capacity right now to be able to maintain social distance on the plant floor.