As businesses continue to navigate COVID-19, they continue to return to work safely and strategically. For Schupan & Sons, Inc., a diversified metals and plastics business with a global footprint, the return to work has been a process of responding to the market and continuing to keep in mind the well-being of its over 500 employees. “The idea is that we’re all in this together,” said Marc Schupan, president and chief executive officer of Schupan & Sons. “The main thing is we need to continue to respect each other, be more patient than we ever have, and realize that nobody could have foreseen this. And that there will be a time when we do get through this.”
Navigating growth and change is no new task for Schupan & Sons which has expanded greatly from its very modest beginning in 1968 with about 6 to 7 employees. Specializing today in industrial and electronics recycling, fabrication and distribution, beverage container processing and materials trading, many divisions of the company were considered essential during the shutdowns that occurred in the past few months. When needs arose in the community during the height of the pandemic, Schupan & Sons quickly responded with innovative products that have become patented in the medical field. One of these products, the AeroGuard, is a clear acrylic box with two open holes for the arms of doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses, and others to reach through when hooking a patient up to a ventilator. Now, Schupan & Sons is using its manufacturing prowess to produce custom-sized sneeze guards and hands-free door openers to help other businesses transition back to work with a safe work environment.
Although two plants were temporarily closed and about 160 employees were unable to work due to shutdowns, Schupan & Sons was able to continue to pay all employees in full throughout the worst of the crisis. Marc explained employees are the most important thing to the company’s business and continuing to invest in them throughout this time was critical because ultimately they are going to help the company get to the future. “The biggest thing is trying to make sure we keep everybody safe,” Marc said.
“I was really pleased with our employees,” Marc continued, noting how all of Schupan & Son’s employees chose to come back to work when the closed plants reopened. “They appreciated that we paid them when they weren’t working. Everybody was really, really constructive.” With most divisions of the company back at full capacity, or even greater capacity than before, it has been important to have all employees back working safely together. “There are still many employees that are choosing to work from home due to safety,” Marc added. “Flexibility is important to keep everybody safe.”
Schupan & Sons’ success with both staying open and returning to work hasn’t been by accident. “It’s culture,” said Marc. “You’re not going to develop a positive culture in the middle of this if you didn’t have it before. Your employees have to know you care about them, you want to keep them safe, and you can be flexible on certain things as well.” Culture is something that Schupan & Sons has been cultivating for years, with its slogan, “We Are Schupan,” uniting and engaging employees. When the pandemic happened, employees were more committed than ever before to the work and mission of the company. “We always say we care. You have to not only say you care, but you have to do things to show it.”
Looking to the future, Marc feels “very fortunate we’re in an area where we have a community that tries to do the right thing and is always trying to make life better for others.” In order to continue to drive that positive future, he feels strongly our community needs to continue to focus on education and making sure that we pour into those that will shape our community’s future. “It’s the people around you,” said Marc. “It’s the talent and the sense of ‘we’ that has led to the success Schupan & Sons has had even during the pandemic. It makes me think of a quote from Mother Teresa that says, ‘I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.’”