Windsor-Essex companies finding ways to cope with COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting a big challenge for companies in Windsor-Essex.

Tecumseh firm making molds for ventilator parts

Brian's Custom Sports is making medical gowns instead of sports equipment. (Brian's Custom Sports/Facebook)

The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting a big challenge for companies in Windsor-Essex.

Integrity Tool and Mold in Oldcastle is operating at about 60 per cent capacity, with 100 to 150 employees in the plant and others working from home. Some employees are not working but everyone is getting paid. The chief operating officer said employees are practising safe hygiene and keeping two metres apart .

"We have our health and safety people who are constantly walking the shop floor making sure everybody's maintaining their distance. Maintenance is continually cleaning and sanitizing and that's pretty much where we're at today," said Patti Zakoor.

Kevin Booker is the director of operations. He said they've split the work day into different shifts to avoid having too many workers in the plant at the same time.The company has been able to augment the usual automotive work by making molds for ventilator parts.

"It's not tooling that we normally do. It's different. it's not in our wheelhouse per say," said Booker. "But we obviously wanted to step up to the challenge and we were grateful that our customers thought of us even to ask us."

Integrity Tool and Mold in Oldcastle normally employs 480 people. (Integrity Tool and Mold)

Booker said they have contracts for six molds and are working on getting contracts to produce three more.

The company is assessing whether it needs to take advantage of the federal wage subsidy or if they can just bring everyone back to work.

Meanwhile, the president of the JC Fresh Farms & Greenhouses operation in Kingsville said they are "ahead of the curve" when it comes to preventing infections from viruses.

He said a group of migrant workers who live together have been quarantined at the greenhouse for the last two weeks to ensure they don't come in contact with anyone on the outside.

"They do not leave or go into the community. The only time they would have to leave the site is mostly for groceries which we have a designated person to pick up their groceries on a bi-weekly basis," said Jeremy Capussi.

He said there is a rigorous process of disinfecting the workers go through, and outsiders are not allowed in, with signs posted reminding everyone of the protocols.

"When we come into our facility it's a whole different ballgame. We pay a guy just to watch them wash their hands every time they come into the facility," said Capussi. "When they have to go into their homes, at the entrance they have a station where they have to wash your hands, disinfect and and put on their different clothes," said Capussi, adding that even the vehicle the grocery delivery driver uses is disinfected every time and uniforms are changed daily and washed.

Another Kingsville company, Brian's Custom Sports is converting their operations from making sports equipment to medical gowns.

A social media posting from Brian's Custom Sports in Kingsville reports they are producing gowns for EMS workers. (Brian's Custom Sports)

"We normally produce gear for the last line of defense, but during these unprecedented times we are now producing for the front lines," reads a social media post.

The company reports that it is producing 18,000 medical gowns for Essex-Windsor EMS.


Dale Molnar

Video Journalist

Dale Molnar is an award-winning video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Windsor and has worked in television, radio and print.