NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — Confer Plastics, Inc. got the green light to re-open its operations on May 4 — manufacturing essential items only.
This comes a few months after the company had to lay off 165 employees.
“We had to lay them off not knowing when they would come back, and depending on economic circumstances — if they would be coming back,” said Confer Plastics President Bob Confer.
Now, after submitting a plan to the state, it will begin to bring some of those workers back in phases.
The company will start with 36 employees on the 4th.
“We are going to stagger the amount of co-workers that we bring back, so it might take us 12 weeks right now to catch up.”
Confer says the plant is experiencing a backorder log of about six weeks right now.
The family-owned plant typically produces items for pools, but now it’s going to open up making items for the U.S. Navy and Coast guard — things like SCBA cases, and sonobuoys.
Confer put in a request with Empire State Development to allow the company to start producing non-essential items as it slowly re-opens to help fill the order backlog. It expects to be behind up to 9 to 10 weeks by the time things get back up and running.
The re-open plan, according to Confer, is a 2-to-3 page protocol document.
Half of it outlines the expectations of the company to keep its employees safe; the other half of the protocols describe how employees will contribute to the safety of their co-worker’s health.
“We’re going to have social distancing. We’re going to expand some of our workstations to make sure people aren’t on top of each other. We’re going to mandate the use of masks. We’re also going to control the use of common areas.”
Also, there will be a rigorous health check system put in place.
“We’re going to be doing temperature checks at the start of the shift, also during the lunch break. And also, we’re going to do health screenings throughout the day, so as they come into the workplace, we’re going to ask them a series of questions about exposures…”
Confer says Cuomo has the right idea of opening up construction and manufacturing businesses first.
“When it comes to health and safety, that’s old hat to what we do in manufacturing and construction,” he said. “It’s good that we can be the model for that and I’m hopeful that other businesses and it could be any line of work can learn from us and use that in their workplace and use that not only to protect their co-workers but also for the customers.”