78.5 F
San Fernando
Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022
-Advertisement-

COVID Creates Havoc, Opportunity at Factories

Innovative Cosmetic Labs, a Chatsworth manufacturer of oils, mists and creams, tried something new during the height of the coronavirus pandemic – it began to make hand sanitizers.

Matt Stearn, president of the company, said that previously it had never manufactured that product. But the Food and Drug Administration let all companies with the capability to make sanitizers do the work and gave guidelines on which formulations were safe, he said.  “We took the time and put in the safety measures,” Stearn said. “We had the right equipment as well. You needed to have pneumatic filling machines which are explosion-proof, and we had everything ready to go.” The company, which was spun off more than 10 years ago from Derma E, a natural skin and hair care products manufacturer in Simi Valley, was able to continue to fill orders for its regular customers and keep up with the hand sanitizer workload. Innovative  Doing the hand sanitizers helped the company because at the same time the pandemic forced some retailers to force, affecting customer orders and supply chains, Stearn said.

“We had a lot of circumstances where we had orders ready to go but the customer couldn’t get the caps or couldn’t get the bottles, or the lead time was too extended,” Stearn added.Ever-changing complianceAt S&H Machine, a Burbank manufacturer of parts for military and commercial aircraft, owner David Fisher said that dealing with the pandemic was certainly a challenge.

One complication was staying up to date with requirements from Los Angeles County and following the advice of the firm’s lawyers, Fisher added.

“We were constantly in the mode of researching and making sure we were in compliance while at the same time making sure our employees were safe and making sure we were fulfilling our obligations for our customers,” he explained.David Goodreau, president of the Small Manufacturers Institute in La Cañada Flintridge, said that companies that paid attention and updated their operations did better during the pandemic while the others struggled.“The more they put into their companies, the easier it is for them to follow the rise and fall a little better,” Goodreau added. “Most of the better companies have implemented automation in some way or another. Trying to find good people remains a problem.”Goodreau said he recently talked with a friend who owns a manufacturing company in the Santa Fe Springs area who was not taking on any new work because of a difficulty in finding employees.

“She is pretty frustrated that here she has got record sales, but at the same time she cannot deliver so she is not quoting work,” he added. “It’s a mixed bag.” Aerospace slowdownAnother aspect of the pandemic that impacted Valley area manufacturers was the slowdown in commercial aviation, Goodreau said.

“A lot of it is coming back right now, so it’s catching up for lost time in certain areas,” he added.  Fisher has seen the impact on the commercial aviation sector firsthand.“We were managing a health crisis but then all of a sudden we had to manage a financial crisis because none of us anticipated such a big hit to commercial aerospace and that people would stop flying,” he said.

His company had been on track for a record year in sales in 2020. That was halted as the pandemic took hold and commercial customers stopped ordering parts.“We had a lot of parts rolling through the system and all of a sudden customers said, ‘Stop shipping, we’re not going to take the parts,’” Fisher said.

The commercial work is starting to come back, albeit slowly.“We are seeing good signs. We know that people are flying again,” he said.Based on his backorder book, Fisher said he was optimistic about 2022 and 2023. The backorders are slowly climbing whereas at this time last year, they were down, he said.Another area that shows improvement at S&H is in long-term investments.“Last year we didn’t buy any capital equipment,” Fisher said. “We hunkered down, conserved and didn’t buy, whereas with this year we are starting to buy capital equipment again.”So far this year, the company has spent about $600,000 on vision inspection systems, a couple of CNC lathes and a five-axis milling machine that should be delivered early next month, he added.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
-Advertisement-

Featured Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-

Related Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-