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A Thoughtful COVID-19 Recap from the President of HAR

As we enter into November, I can’t help but reflect back on 2020 and what a wild ride it has been. We never could have predicted all the twists and turns that came our way. From learning a new way to cope at home, to concerns in the job market, to keeping our businesses afloat.

At HAR, we are beyond grateful to our customers, employees, and partners for supporting us over the years, and especially in 2020. I want to take a look back at how our company has grown and evolved since the pandemic hit, and where we stand today.
 

EARLY MARCH 2020


Back in March, I set a goal for the HAR team: 

“For our families and our business to come out on the other side of this pandemic healthy.”

A lofty goal, yes, but we set in place the necessary precautions to make this happen including:
  • Minimized contact at work and at home
  • No outside guests inside HAR buildings
  • Limited contact with truck drivers
  • Restricted non-essential customer and prospect visits
  • Cleaned and disinfected frequently touched objects and surfaces often
  • Increased use of alcohol-based personal disinfectants
  • Asked personnel to stay home if they are sick and to seek medical attention if they are showing symptoms
  • Educated employees on how to properly wash hands and not touch face
  • Encouraged employees to visit the CDC website for more specific and personal means of protection
  • And much more…

At this time, HAR quickly obtained a World Health Organization (WHO) formula to manufacture an approved sanitizer. We set out to make it available to all employees and their families at no charge. We also gave away thousands of bottles to our customers at no charge who were having difficulty obtaining a suitable hand sanitizer and were in need of an effective means to help control potential infection. The response was wonderfully overwhelming.

Our eyes were opened to a simple fact.  Something that gave us added purpose and something to be proud of during this time: our core business is packaging. We realized that we were supplying adhesive and equipment that was going directly to companies that were making products to go on the shelves of supermarkets and pharmacies to help combat COVID-19 and to feed and supply the nation. We realized that we were part of the supply chain, connecting manufacturing to the consumer at this critical time.   Companies like ours and employees like ours, not just In the U.S., but around the world were trying to do their best to keep the flow of these products moving. I told my team:

“You and all of the people like you are also heroes.”

We were happy and proud to have given away over 8,000 bottles of sanitizer to HAR family, customers, friends, and local agencies. This valued nearly $100,000.
 

MID-MARCH


Just a mere week or so later, we continued to put new processes in place. Taking employees’ temperatures, increased cleaning measures—anything and everything we could do. I received many thoughtful texts and calls from employees and customers thanking me for implementing such heavy precautions and for genuinely caring about their health and safety. As I shared with one individual:

"Thank you for your thoughtful words. To be perfectly honest, my entire world is wrapped up between my family and HAR. So in reality, I am doing exactly what I must do to keep my family, you and your families, and HAR safe. To the best of my ability and reason.”
 

END OF MARCH


Near the end of March we received the following letter: 

“Your company is a sub-tier supplier in support of a defense program. As such, we expect that you will justify your standing as an Essential Business within our supply chain, so you can continue production despite any forthcoming workforce restrictions.” 

So, we continued to press on. And we recognized the dedication of our administrative and production departments with a monetary appreciation bonus for 100% attendance. 

The small but important role HAR played in helping to combat COVID-19 emphasized just how critically important it was to keep each other as safe as possible at work and at home. 

And I read. And read. And researched. And read. Anything and everything reliable that I could get my hands on, all with the sole purpose of keeping up with enhanced methods and the latest methods for continuing to keep my team safe. I asked my employees:
  1. While at work, follow all of the new COVID-19 rules religiously. Be supportive. Be understanding. Look out for your fellow employee. Be courteous. Be considerate.
  2. While at home, take the measures that we are applying at work and apply them at home. Be the voice of reason.

APRIL 2020


As March turned into April, each day brought new information that opened our eyes to see the true impact of this global health crisis. I urged our employees that this once in a lifetime challenge calls for us to all be more flexible, forgiving, creative, and compassionate. There were no perfect solutions. But there certainly were smart choices.  

I began to worry more about the health and safety of my employees and their families, and our customers and their families. I also began to worry more about the health of the business. A business responsible for issuing 45 paychecks every week. A business where people relied on ME...

By this time we had effectively manufactured and distributed most of the free sanitizer.  Many people wanted to know what they could do to help and many customers were looking for more sanitizer.  It was reassuring to see many businesses and kind-hearted people come together to help each other out during these unprecedented times. The need was massive and the opportunities to give back were endless.  We decided to leverage the hand sanitizer for more good.  With this in mind, we established a HAR sponsored GoFundMe account, with the profits from any sanitizer sold going directly to a special fund for the Cleveland Clinic that would help with conducting research on COVID-19 to identify better testing, patient treatment and care, and possible vaccines.
 

MAY 2020


I started May by telling my team:

“I have been so proud of each and every one of you. You have all really accepted the new normal and I can see that you are all doing your best to keep yourselves and those you are working with safe.”

I emphasized the importance of FACTS. And making sure we were getting information from reliable sources to continue to do our part to combat COVID-19.

It was around this time we recognized something important: 

This virus is not going away soon.

With that in mind, we fell into a groove of how to operate safely at work. With clear guidance, we began to learn how to operate safely in society.

Throughout this time of pause, I was extremely proud of the entire team here at HAR. We announced that thanks to overwhelming support from our employees and customers, we will be making a contribution to COVID-19 research at the Cleveland Clinic in the amount of $10,000!
 

JUNE 2020


With June came this focus:

“We cannot afford to let down our guard!”

At this time, the U.S. recorded coronavirus cases were spiking and deaths were reaching 1,000 per day.  We learned that the virus really is spreading more rapidly than it was several weeks earlier. The rise of U.S. cases also led to more serious illnesses and hospitals being overcapacity. 

We decided to move our sanitizer focus to our local community.  We partnered with our local Chamber of Commerce to begin offering our multi-purpose sanitizer to local businesses and residents.
 

OCTOBER 2020


We skip forward to October and the message of:

“It’s going to be a long Fall and Winter.”

It was predicted that cases will rise as more people spend time indoors, get even more tired of public health measures, travel for the holidays, and struggle with conflicting messages on what to do next. 

I have certainly felt the pressure to be more lax. I feared some of our employees had too. I stressed that while no one really knows what the next few months will bring, we must remain vigilant.  

We began October by giving 50 cases of sanitizer to local Bedford local schools in support of their effort to keep their students safe. We also gave  free sanitizer to the Catholic school attended by my grandchildren.
 

NOVEMBER 2020


Now here we are, in November of 2020. During this pandemic, we have all faced challenges unlike anything we have experienced before. We continue to miss the faces of our colleagues and personal conversations with many of our customers, and we know many businesses are feeling the same way. We have spent more time at home and more time reflecting on the future and how things will change. Moving forward, we will continue to be flexible and adjust our course as needed, and we sincerely hope everyone remains cautious and safe.

I remain extremely proud of the entire team here at HAR. We were an early adopter of heightened sanitizing and social distancing in our facilities as we limited our guests and enforced safety by having everyone wear masks. The team distributed our WHO-approved sanitizer to HAR customers, family, friends, and local agencies to let them know we are thinking about them and in support of keeping them and their employees safe.

We hope our many precautions, our non-interrupted service and our sanitizer program have provided you with even a small amount of protection and relief. 

I wish you all health and safety. We here at HAR Adhesive look forward to continuing to work with you and seeing you all again soon.

Sincerely,



Joe Cerino
President

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