The Rebound: Manufacturer on the way back following COVID-19 related scare

Employees coming back to work
Posted at 11:04 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 23:04:07-04

SHELBYVILLE — The Rebound, Indiana is WRTV's initiative to show how people are working together to bounce back from the pandemic's impact.

In Shelby County, Ryobi had to lay off 700 employees earlier in the year because of slowed sales. Now, most of those workers are back on the job.

The company is a major automotive supplier of aluminum die castings, but business came to a halt earlier this year. For eight weeks there were no sales and no production.

"It was kind of scary because I've never been in a situation like this before," said Ryobi North America President and Chief Operating Officer Ryan Willhelm.

And it was a difficult time for employees such as James Velez, who have been with Ryobi more than a decade. "The uncertainty of not knowing if you're going to have a job to come back to it is very scary very concerning," said Velez.

But Ryobi had a recovery plan, learned from 9-11 and the 2008 financial crisis. "We had our human resources department or management teams spend time every week talking to associates on the phone did you file for your unemployment are you having trouble how can we assist you," said Willhelm.

Business started picking up about one month ago, and most of the workforce was called back. Good news for employee Tony Miano. "RYOBI has taken care of me and my family for so long we have weathered other storms before this and we are going to continue to carry-on," he said.

The company expects the rebound to continue. There are even plans to hire six new employees this year.