Ruggles Sign Company preparing workforce for recovery
As retail businesses and shopping malls begin reopening, Ruggles Sign Company has been providing more learning opportunities for its employees so they are better able to serve their customers as the economy rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic, co-owner Tim Cambron said. Ruggles Sign, a family-owned company in Versailles, doesn’t currently have the volume of “work that we would normally have,” so computer labs have been set up for workers to learn new skills, and highly-skilled employees are sharing their knowledge with co-workers, he said. All these learning opportunities are happening because his workforce has time – something they didn’t have when they were busier, he added. “We are just trying to make ourselves a better company, and make our people better,” Cambron said. He said most of his 100 employees were never laid off and nearly everyone has returned to work now (some at home). They are working 30 to 32 hours a week, but are receiving their regular pay rate for 40 hours since Ruggles Sign received a federally-funded Paycheck Protection Program loan, he said. Employees continue manufacturing transparent plastic sneeze guards, which are mounted to countertops and provide a physical barrier between service workers and customers at restaurants, banks and other businesses, Cambron said. He estimated Ruggles has made 1,400 sneeze guards, beginning with an initial 140 for the world’s second-largest shipping company, DHL. “It’s nice just to feel like you’re doing a little part of what’s needed to get our lives somewhat back to normal,” Cambron said. Ruggles has sign work too, but those jobs have been put on hold because of the economic slowdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cambron explained. Those jobs will resume when businesses are again remodeling and building stores that will need new signs, he said. One of his biggest concerns is not knowing how long retail businesses will “sit on the sidelines” before proceeding with expansion plans in the wake of this health-related economic downturn, he added.