by Chris Collier
On May 13, exactly 14 months or 426 days after the U.S declared a national emergency due to COVID-19, the CDC announced that fully-vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances. Following the announcement, New Jersey has ripped off its collective mask and retailers have updated their mandates. But where does the door and window industry stand in the pandemic’s aftermath?
The 426 days between the U.S.’s national emergency declaration and the CDC-led unmasking have slammed each state’s slew of businesses with varying blows. For Jay Andreas, CEO of ASI Construction in Burr Ridge, Ill., COVID-19’s effects have varied.
“The restrictions have not affected us at all,” Andreas said. “We’ve been thriving during COVID and are doing more window sales than we were outside COVID. I do find it a little odd that we have been selling so many windows during COVID but we will take it. We haven’t had any negative effects with windows and doors other than the lead times. There’s always been a wait but because of COVID, the times are not typical. The lead times are brutal during COVID. It’s about 10 to 12 weeks to get windows and doors. It used to be about four to six weeks.”
Andreas said that, while the situation is fluid, some normalcy has returned to his business.
“We still have a hand sanitizer station and we also take people’s temperatures at the door,” Andreas said. “I would say that we are 75 percent of the way going back to pre-pandemic procedures. For us going forward, having temperature checks are a must and we will not remove the hand sanitizer station. I don’t care if people wear masks in here or if they don’t at this point. Whatever the customers would like to do or makes them feel comfortable, we will accommodate.”
Jeff Weaver, president of Clarkston Window and Door in Pontiac, Mich. (courtesy of Jeff Weaver)
For Jeff Weaver, president of Clarkston Window and Door in Pontiac, Mich., the pandemic both challenged and advanced business operations.
“We significantly improved our inventory control and work-from-home capabilities,” Weaver said. “Now all of our staff can see the status of all items on every order from any mobile device. Phone [calls] can be transferred or answered from anywhere. Overall the changes have been great with significant improvement to customer service.”
Mike Troutman, vice president of EHS Excellence at MI Windows and Doors, LLC, said that impact varied by location, but the crisis forced his entire business to become more agile and adaptable. Troutman said his company will continue to utilize the CDC as a guidepost for safety procedures as the crisis evolves.
“We continue to conduct pre-shift temperature screenings and other preventative measures within our facilities to stress the importance of self-health awareness among our team,” Troutman said. “Time will tell if these precautionary measures remain in effect after the pandemic has fully subsided. We’ll continue to utilize the CDC and other trusted resources to help us make the best decisions for our team and our business.”
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, so do the protocols and guidelines designed around it. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) has altered vaccine guidance, which previously said employers should record all adverse reactions to required vaccinations. The agency’s updated FAQ page on adverse reactions now says the following:
DOL and OSHA, as well as other federal agencies, are working diligently to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and also does not wish to disincentivize employers’ vaccination efforts. As a result, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR 1904’s recording requirements to require any employers to record worker side effects from COVID-19 vaccination through May 2022. We will reevaluate the agency’s position at that time to determine the best course of action moving forward.