As 2020 comes-to-a-close, we wanted to take the time to reflect on the past year. Since the beginning of the year, we, as a company, and as individuals have endured challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these challenges, we continue to adapt, as we work to meet our customer’s needs. Despite the ongoing pandemic, here are some things that have happened at Viwinco in 2020.
Changes in Manufacturing:
2020 was a turbulent year that introduced many changes and challenges for manufacturing. Towards the end of March, we followed the government mandate and closed production for 2-weeks. Upon reopening, we played “catch-up”, trying to ship existing orders while fulfilling the large volume of incoming orders. To assist in keeping up with production, we brought in our Northern Sales Team to fill positions in the plant (since many distributors requested no in-person visits unless it was an emergency).
To ensure our facility was a safe work environment through this pandemic, we enacted the CDC’s safety guidelines, which included: social distancing at 6ft, wearing masks, and increasing hand sanitization stations within our facility. We also required temperature checks before entering the facility and eventually installed our own temperature gateway to speed up the process and ensure accuracy.
To help mitigate the pandemic’s effects on our employees, we increased our minimum wage to $15 and created tiered wage increases. Additionally, we introduced a new paid parental leave policy, which allows 4-weeks of paid time off following the birth or adoption of a new child or placement of a foster child into a new home for both parents.
As we witnessed our suppliers struggle to get us material, we purchased our own profile laminator to help expedite the manufacturing of our colored laminate products and cut back on the extended lead times. The impact of our laminator will be more visible in 2021.
Though this was a challenging year, we prioritized not losing sight of our most valuable asset, our employees. As a small thank you, we provided bagged lunches from local Nuses Deli and Kona Ices. We also kicked off the first Viwinco language course hosted by our Corporate Trainer, who was previously a Spanish Teacher. The purpose of the language course is to present non-Spanish speaking employees an opportunity to learn Spanish and non-English speaking employees a chance to learn English. One of our goals for the language courses, was to improve communication within our manufacturing facility.
In late 2019 we created a t-shirt design contest for the design students at Muhlenberg Career and Technical Center to develop new company t-shirts. As a result, we received two new company t-shirts for our employees. One of which is for our OceanView impact-resistant product line and the other a Viwinco definition-styled shirt, that shows the correct Viwinco Pronunciation in both English and Spanish variants. This year, we had the t-shirts printed and given to our employees. In keeping up with Viwinco tradition, we also did our annual turkey handout for Thanksgiving. Finally, we gifted each of our employees Viwinco coffee mugs with S’mores kits, as a small end of the year present.
Aside from all of the internal changes that have been happening at Viwinco, we also maintained our dedication to positively impacting our community by involving ourselves with external projects. Earlier in the year, we completed our second year of working with the “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing” (WSCM) program, by sponsoring a group of students from Daniel Boone Middle School. Although our team did not take home an award this year, it was still a great experience for us, and a big opportunity to introduce a younger generation to potential careers in manufacturing. This year, we look forward to working with our group of students from Reading Northwest Middle School in the 5th annual WSCM.
Viwinco Summer of Awareness & Giving
After seeing the negative impact that COVID-19 was having on people worldwide, we wanted to reach out and see how we could help. We introduced our “Summer of Awareness and Giving” charity event, at the end of Spring, where we would donate $1 per window to the sponsored charity of that month.
In June, we supported Helping Harvest, which works closely with food banks throughout Berks county to provide programs and assistance to those in need of food. Additional programs such as the Weekender Program, Senior Food Totes and Produce 4 Kids ensure children and low-income senior citizens have access to healthy food.
In July, we supported Opportunity House, which works with homeless shelters, to provide a place for homeless individuals and families to stay and programs such as counseling, money management, parenting, and goal planning to help them to become self-sufficient once again. Additionally, they also offer homeless preventative services for veterans, and an array of programs for children such as 24/7 childcare, and transportation to Reading Elementary and Middle Schools.
In August, our final charity we supported for our event, was the West Park Cultural Center, which provides artistic and educational programs to the youth of the West Park community in Philadelphia.
All three of these organizations do great work within our local areas. If you would like to make additional contributions or find out ways to get involved, follow the respective links below.
Earlier in the year, we also donated window packages to the Habitat for Humanity of West Chester, for their Fuller Meadows community project in West Grove, which provides affordable housing for those in need. We recently were notified that seven families moved into their new homes just in time for the holidays. Most recently, we donated windows to the Construction Cluster at the Berks Career and Technology Center. These windows will be installed and used in a student-built house, to provide them with hands-on installation experience and teach them the industry’s best installation practices.
Looking Ahead to 2021:
Having been one of the most challenging years of our lifetimes, Viwinco did its part to not only be a good employer, but have a positive impact on the community as well, through helping other local small businesses. We will continue to closely monitor the CDC guidelines, and make updates where necessary to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our employees. We would like to thank our employees and customers for their hard work, support and understanding through these trying times. As we continue into 2021, we set our sights on all of the positive updates and changes scheduled for this new year!