In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Turf has refined its “Made In America” coverage to focus on what a handful of companies—both large and small—did over the past few months to help manage this uncertain time for their employees, their communities, the world, and their customers. These companies represent just a small fraction of the countless many who went above and beyond to ease burdens, feed families, protect healthcare workers, and keep people employed. No one will deny that many tough issues remain. But what’s more American than coming together in strength to meet new challenges and face the future?
In China, during the early days of the outbreak, John Deere dealers and customers jumped into action to help build two new hospitals in less than two weeks. By March 10, just as COVID began truly accelerating in the U.S., Deere reps contacted local organizations to understand the virus’ impact in its communities. Ten days later, the Deere Foundation announced a two-for-one employee donation match to food banks and American Red Cross chapters. Deere also waived copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for employee COVID testing. And Deere Financial encouraged its lease customers to contact them regarding COVID-related financial hardships.
In late March, Deere supported the local Iowa and Illinois hospital system (home to numerous Deere facilities) by donating protective eyewear to doctors and nurses. With PPE supplies running low, Doug Cropper, CEO of Genesis Health System, reached out to Deere and Karl Kane, manager, Deere Enterprise Facilities Engineering Services, found a supply that was donated just one day afterward. Another Deere unit later sent additional pieces. “This is a trying time for all of us, and the support we are receiving across our community makes a big difference,” said Cropper.
By early April, Deere was not only donating PPE, it was making them in Moline, IL. In collaboration with several sources, including the UAW, Deere produced approximately 225,000 protective face shields for healthcare workers. In true American spirit, Deere called upon the expertise, skills, and innovation of its employees to implement the project using an open-source design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kane noted that helping others is something Deere and its employees are known for. “Helping others runs deep in the John Deere culture,” Kane said.
Like Deere, Caterpillar’s first efforts to fight the pandemic started in China. The Caterpillar Foundation made a $250,000 donation to the China Women’s Development Foundation to provide healthcare facilities with PPE in China’s Hubei province, where the outbreak initially occurred. As the crisis escalated, the Caterpillar Foundation committed $8.5 million to support global communities, including underserved populations, affected by the virus. The Foundation’s investment: supported nonprofits working to help prevent, detect, and respond to the virus; provided resources to hospitals; addressed food insecurity; and even enabled online STEM education for youth impacted by school closures. “These investments are an important expression of our company’s values,” commented Jim Umpleby, Caterpillar chairman and CEO.
The Foundation also increased an existing employee donation match program which achieved its overall cap of $2.5 million in a matter of days. “Our employees and retirees give so generously, and we are proud to amplify their gifts and support our many nonprofit partners working tirelessly to keep our communities safe and prosperous,” commented Asha Varghese, Caterpillar Foundation president.
One Cat-affiliated employee who gave generously, not just of money, but of time was Tina Bryan, rental manager of Boyd Cat’s Jeffersonville, IN branch dealer. When hospital ship USNS Comfort docked at New York City to provide extra hospital beds, Bryan, a member of the U.S. Navy Reserves for the past 15 years, was aboard as Hospital Corpsman Chief. The tugboats that assisted the Comfort into port even had Cat® 3516E Tier 4 engines.
Other Cat employees contributed in a variety of ways highlighted in “Meet The Doers.”
While international companies may have money and resources to make large, newsworthy contributions, Cat recognized there were plenty of unsung contributions going on every day. When a Minnesota hospital experienced a water main break, the team at Isanti-based Dirtworks Inc. worked 24 hours straight with Cat equipment to get it back up and running. Dirtworks vice president, Steve Strandlund, commented, “Want to know what’s so unique about the construction industry? THE PEOPLE. Some days, we get calls in the middle of the day that require employees to work 24 hours straight to help fix critical things such as a broken water main. Two days ago, that water main was at our local hospital… There’s plenty of chaos out there right now and more than ever we are proud to have one heck of a team of people that pulls together to serve our customers and our local community. And at the end of the day, that makes it all worth it.” He continues, “Hats off to all of the good people in the world, in any industry, doing their part to keep the world turning without caring if they are in the spotlight or getting the credit.”
Canopy Lawn Care
Canopy Lawn Care in Cary, NC figured out a way to help people affected by COVID-19: by hiring displaced workers, and providing free lawn maintenance for health care workers. “I’ve got 28 phone interviews scheduled for today alone” Morgana Cannata, Canopy’s head of recruiting and onboarding, said in May. “With so many people out of work at the moment, the opportunity to work outside with safe distancing is pretty appealing. And we have a bigger need at the moment because of the initiatives we are rolling out.”
One of those initiatives provides local health care professionals with a free mowing and discounted services for two months. It’s being funded, in part, by the sale of Canopy’s version of the classic Victory Garden, where a raised bed is assembled and filled on-site for customers to plant later. “We think that people will really like the idea of being able to contribute to a good cause, while at the same time enjoy a more self-sustainable lifestyle,” offers Ben Wright, Canopy director of field operations.
In collaboration with Greenscape Inc., Canopy customers, and others, can also sponsor a health care worker and pay for his/her lawn maintenance. “At the end of the day health care workers need help, people are out of work and need jobs, and serving others is very much aligned with our values,” comments Canopy CEO Hunt Davis. Greenscape CEO Daniel Currin echoes that sentiment, “It’s great to be able to actually do something to help right now, when a lot of people are feeling helpless.”
Canopy wasn’t the only company who offered free lawn services. Cub Cadet partnered with TaskEasy, an on-demand lawn care service serving more than 12,000 U.S. cities, to offer a free month of mowing (up to two cuts, every other week) to doctors, nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, police officers, and firefighters. Cub Cadet donated the costs for services up to $200,000. “Helping thousands of first responders while providing additional work to our contractors really motivates our team,” said Ken Davis, TaskEasy CEO and founder. “This pandemic has disrupted ordinary life for every American in ways big and small. Through this partnership, Cub Cadet and TaskEasy are doing as much good as we can for those who are putting it all on the line for us.”
“Cub Cadet is inspired by the daily sacrifices made by our first responders and emergency health care professionals as they care for our communities,” said Heidi Ketvertis, vice president of marketing at Cub Cadet. “Through this simple gesture of providing lawn mowing, heroes [could] return home with one less task to do. We hope this service help[ed] them and their families during a challenging time.”
The company that landscapers use for herbicides is also a well known name in pharmaceuticals and consumer health. As a result, the company has been busy with daily COVID efforts on multiple fronts. Just some of Bayer’s charitable efforts have included:
- Donating one million chloroquine tablets for treatment of COVID in Italy.
- Donations of over 500,000 packs of Bepanthen to more than 100,000 healthcare professionals in 25 countries. Bepanthen works to heal skin and can help healthcare workers with irritated faces from wearing masks all day. “It’s our small way of saying thank you for their heroic efforts in fighting the pandemic,” wrote Heiko Schipper, President, Bayer Consumer Health.
- At Proquina, a pharmaceutical factory in Mexico, Bayer produced alcohol-based hand sanitizers. As of April 22, 1,000 liters had been generated, and another 10,000 liters were currently in preparation. Additionally, a converted 3D printer in Lerma, Mexico, was producing transparent face shields. Bayer donates both the sanitizers and face shields.
- Crop Science division employees raised nearly $28,500 in a virtual food drive for Operation Food Search, an organization that distributes food and necessities to 330 community partners in Missouri and Illinois.
- Bayer’s Technical Discovery Center in Chesterfield, MO manufactured plastic face shields for health care workers using a 3D printer. Similarly, in Iowa and Hawaii, teams have been printing PPE parts and ventilator components through the use of their 3D printers.
- Another team wanted to raise awareness on the importance of farmers and made rubber bracelets with printed messages that say “#stillfarming” and “I am Essential.” More than 4,000 bracelets have been distributed to seed partners, growers, and retailers in Indiana and Kentucky.
For more of Bayer’s COVID-19 efforts, see the Corona Ticker on its site.
Arborjet, developers of plant health formulations, recognized that event cancellations due to COVID meant many landscapers couldn’t receive necessary pesticide and herbicide training this past Spring. “As we prepared for a worsening of this pandemic, we began building a webinar program nearly three weeks ago. We saw the potential for large groups of our customers to be stranded at home and missing CEU credits,” wrote Russ Davis, President and CEO, several weeks ago. As a result, the company offered a variety of free online resources including:
- A Spring Webinar Series where participants could earn .5 CEUs to the ISA. (Recorded webinars are posted on YouTube.)
- Live webinars on “How to sell,” regional pest updates, and equipment training, which included CEUs when possible.
- Pest and product information, equipment manuals, and research on the website; and more.
Arborjet also assisted some of its customers with getting access to much needed PPE. In early March, Arborjet engineers began to convert the company’s 3D printers to create custom, reusable masks. Davis had hoped to print the first masks in mid-May with enough for employees and business partners.
While states debated “essential” services, Davey Tree operated as requested over the last few months, assured of the importance of its crews’ work performing hazardous tree removal; pruning; leaf disease and fungal treatments; and pest management. “Any halt or service delay during this time of year magnifies potential safety problems,” reported the Davey site.
But it wasn’t necessarily business as usual. A Pandemic Preparedness Plan was put into effect, covering a broad range of policies and activities. Work crews were required to use hand sanitizer before exiting their vehicles, prior to entering a client’s property. They also deep-cleaned tools and equipment, and heightened social distancing measures by shifting hours to decrease the number of people and crews interacting in the office at one time. Client experience coordinators worked from home, and Davey sent any proposals or invoices digitally via e-mail upon request.
In an assurance to its customers, Davey’s site referenced its long American history, which started with John Davey, an Englishman who emigrated to America in 1873 and later founded the company. (Early clients included recognizable names like George Eastman of Kodak fame, the Rockefellers, the Colgates, the Archbolds, and more.) Yet for the past 40 years, in true democratic fashion, Davey has been an employee-owned company. Their site states their historical perspective, “Since 1880, we have weathered many storms, and we are prepared to support our clients, employee-owners and the communities we serve during this outbreak.”
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