DICKSON, Tenn.—While many companies in the rubber industry have been temporarily shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, others deemed essential have flourished, all while protecting the safety of their work force and integrity of their supply chain.
Zochem L.L.C., the largest supplier of zinc oxide in North America with manufacturing facilities in Dickson as well as Brampton, Ontario, is one of those companies, categorized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as “essential to the health and welfare of the country.”
"Our highest priority is doing everything within our power to support the health and safety of our customers, team members, supplier partners and communities," said Ed Smith, Zochem vice president of sales and marketing. "Following that, we commit to doing our part to help keep America running."
As such, Zochem said its facilities remain in full operation, and it has enacted health safety policies that mirror federal and state regulations, as well as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in combating the coronavirus.
Policies include social distancing at work, wearing protective gear, eliminating outsider visits and non-essential business travel, and telecommuting when possible for staff workers, Zochem said. In addition, the company is versed in proper hygiene and respiratory protection, policies that Zochem has made more robust since the pandemic began.
Besides zinc oxide being a key ingredient in tire and rubber goods, zinc also is essential in maintaining such areas as food supply, production of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, and protection of transportation, energy and public works infrastructure. Zochem said that was a big reason companies like it have been deemed essential by Homeland Security so there will be no disruptions in supply to these sectors.
Zochem added that its finances "remain strong despite the COVID-19 impacts."
"Companies like Zochem are at the start of both the food chain and industrial processes," Smith said. "Even so, it wouldn't take long before shortages would occur if we stopped production."
Zinc oxide is produced by the indirect, or French process, according to Zochem, and is used in sunscreens and as a raw material to produce rubber. The compound also is used in pharmaceuticals, food additives, fertilizers, chemicals, plastics, livestock feed and ceramics.
Zochem was founded in 1933, and in September 2017 the company was acquired by Zinc Oxide L.L.C., creating the largest supplier of zinc oxide in North America, according to a previous Rubber & Plastics News report.