Despite ‘essential’ status, business halts for this company that relies on goods from others

Posted at 7:14 AM, Apr 21, 2020

Businesses who depend on factory supplies have had to halt some of their jobs, at least until people are back to work in Italy and New York.

Spring is normally Goodwin-Cole's busy season. The Northern California based company helps its customers find shelter from Sacramento's blazing summer heat.

They provide awnings for homeowners, restaurants, taverns and hotels. They've also worked with the historic Delta King.

The owner, 97-year-old veteran Bob Cole, has been through a lot. But what he's watching unfold now, compares to nothing else.

“He’s said he’s never seen anything like it,” recalled general manager Scott Pierce. “That’s somebody who lived through the Great Depression and WWII. He compared it a little bit to the beginning of WWII, where they shut San Francisco down.”

For now, the company has enough work backlogged to keep everyone employed.

The 130-year old company has full sewing and welding sites and are considered essential. But there's a problem. Their main materials supplier operates out of Italy, New York and Los Angeles. Those factories have all shut down amid the outbreak.

"They considered it in the best interest of their company to send their employees home and for the best safety of their employees,” Pierce said.

The iron they use for their gates comes from China, which Pierce says has been tough to manage.

Goodwin-Cole is also concerned about what's next. Sales aren't going well, and the future is a little uncertain, like it is for many.

“It’ll affect our business coming out of this, and if economy doesn’t bounce back and if people don’t pick up where they let off, so to speak, we’ll have some tough decisions to make even down the road,” he said.

Thus far, Pierce says customers have been understanding; they're waiting out that supply chain. Like most everyone else, they're anxiously awaiting the day when life can resume as normal.