PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Just as the pandemic has shut many industries down across the country, others have had to push through in order to keep the country running.
In Bay County, major manufacturing facilities like Berg Pipe and Oceaneering can be found at Port Panama City; these two facilities employ nearly five hundred people in Bay County and surrounding areas, and they’ve kept everyone on board during the pandemic.
“It means a lot to a lot of them,” said Rudy Miller, a shift manager at Berg Pipe. “Everyone still has bills and everything to pay.”
The pipes manufactured at Berg Pipe are used for oil and gas transmission, powering our everyday lives.
“That’s why it’s so important that we were able to keep working while a lot of the country was shut down,” said Andrew Hicks, VP of Operations at Berg Pipe.
He said changes had to be made to keep everything up and running with the virus, like staggering shifts to ensure social distancing, providing washable face masks and allowing those who can work from home to do so.
“It’s just one more hurdle to jump over,” said Hicks. “Our employees have been willing to do the work, and we’re willing to make it as safe as we can for them, and that’s why we’ve been able to keep running.”
At Oceaneering, it’s a similar experience. As one of only about three companies in the United States that manufactures the specialized underwater cables that they do, the work must continue; according to Oceaneering leaders, half of the team has been working from home.
“We had to learn some lessons about how to work from home, how to work remotely,” said Thomas Landreth, General Manager of Oceaneering in Panama City. “Some of it’s gone really, really, well, some of it surprised us.”
He said it’s provided several learning lessons and an opportunity to experiment with productivity.
“We’re finding that some jobs are very, very productive working at home where maybe we wouldn’t have thought that in the past,” said Landreth.
While both companies say their own supply chains haven’t been exceptionally affected, Landreth said it’s a huge learning lesson for other manufacturers around the country when it comes to managing future global crises.
“It really speaks to what should we do in this country versus what we shouldn’t,” said Landreth.
He added that some of that re-assessing includes finding cost-effective places for manufacturing such as Bay County.