CHENNAI, India—When an unforeseen crisis like the coronavirus pandemic strikes, the tendency can be to try to resolve immediate rather than long-term issues.
The key, according to the leadership team at Polyhose Inc., is to strike a balance between the two philosophies, one that prioritizes the safety and well-being of its more than 2,000 employees, yet remains flexible enough to keep its operations, and its bottom line, afloat during volatile times.
"Polyhose has a long-term commitment, even during a global financial crisis," said Senior Vice President Jonathan Pressler. "Polyhose will always keep a long-term perspective. This really is a plus. The company's expenditures into research and development and their commitment to quality doesn't waiver during this time of financial volatility, and that's very refreshing."
The global hose manufacturer also demonstrated its commitment to its work force during the pandemic, as a majority of Polyhose's employees live in northern India and are housed at the company's campus in southern India for periods of time. All of the company's manufacturing is done across 1 million square feet of production space in India.
There have been no cases of COVID-19 at any of the company's facilities, either in India, New Jersey, South Carolina, Europe, the Middle East or Asia, according to Polyhose President Fatima Mohammed.
When the pandemic struck, the Indian government instituted a "Section 144," which essentially put in place a curfew for everyone in the country, where no more than five or six people could congregate at a time, said Raja Rajagopalan, the firm's senior vice president of distribution and sales.
Polyhose closed for 40 days, with many of its workers relegated to their campus homes.
"Even when we were allowed to open, we maintained protective gear for all our employees," Rajagopalan said. "But Polyhose really went above and beyond, as we provided masks for both our employees and the local community. Since the stores were closed, we got veggies and food for the workers housed near the plants and placed the food on their door steps."
Polyhose reopened in India in mid-May, and is operating at between 80 and 85 percent as it ramps up once again, Mohammed said.
"They wanted to ease restrictions up earlier, but then things shot back up again," Mohammed said. "But now, this week and the end of last week, we have started to function fully, more or less."
Some employees returned to their Northern India homes for various reasons—health concerns, concerns for family members—and have not yet returned to Polyhose in the south, but most of the work force is back on the floor, Mohammed said. No staffing changes are anticipated because of the pandemic, according to Polyhose.
"The company is taking measures to ensure their safety," she said.
While the pandemic's impact in Asian and European markets—namely oil and gas—was "significant," the company remains strong financially, with cash on hand and proper liquidity, said Mohammed Millwala, vice president of operations at Polyhose.