COVID-19 forces Kohler to adjust operations

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Posted by of Insight Publications

The Kohler Co. has reduced employee hours and temporarily shut down some divisions because of COVID-19.

The Sheboygan County manufacturer’s cast iron foundry and ceramics divisions have seen a decrease in demand, with both segments temporarily closing for a couple of weeks before reopening. Employees in all divisions, except generators, are working 32 hours a week.

In a statement, Kohler said it “remains on solid footing,” but demand for some market segments has decreased. The company is adjusting operations in Wisconsin and elsewhere to respond.

Kohler said some market segments have seen orders decline because customers have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, but the concern around sanitation has sparked an increased interest in other segments, including touchless faucets and toilet seats with an integrated bidet. Kohler has seen year-over-year growth in bidet products for the past five years.

“Kohler continues to be an essential supplier to many customers,” the statement said. “Operating to maximize the health and safety of our associates is our top priority.”

Cleaning crews have been more than doubled, hand sanitizer and masks are available, and it is following the state’s 6-foot social distancing guidelines. In areas where social distancing isn’t possible, Plexiglass has been installed between workspaces.

Last week, Kohler’s engine division, which is being moved to Hattiesburg, Miss., made its last engine locally.

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