Published in Manufacturing

Herman Miller brings back manufacturing workers to focus on health care projects

BY Monday, March 30, 2020 12:16pm

ZEELAND — Office furniture maker Herman Miller Inc. anticipates bringing back up to 30 percent of its manufacturing employees by today to help support the company’s health care division.

The Zeeland-based company said it will transform a portion of its manufacturing footprint to fulfill the immediate need for medical and personal protective equipment. The employees, who were affected by the temporary shutdown of the company’s manufacturing operations in compliance with the state’s stay-home order, will be brought back to help Herman Miller support hospitals and medical staff during the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19. 

Herman Miller President and CEO Andi Owen COURTESY PHOTO

The company is “taking significant steps” to keep employees safe with “ensuring a return to form as a thriving company once this global health crisis has passed,” Herman Miller President and CEO Andi Owen said in a statement.

Herman Miller’s manufacturing plant in Dongguan, China, experienced the initial effects of COVID-19 earlier this year and is now back to running near full capacity, according to the company. 

Lessons learned from that first interaction with the virus led to a number of employee safety measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, including domestic and international travel restrictions, work-from-home practices, extensive cleaning protocols, and ultimately the closure of the company’s showrooms and retail outlets to the public, according to the statement. 

“We are grateful to all our employees for their dedication, and we will continue to respond to this dynamic situation with the health of both our employees and our company top-of-mind,” Owen said. 

Elsewhere in the U.S., Herman Miller brand Nemschoff, which also serves the health care industry, continues operations at full capacity in Sheboygan, Wis. Distribution operations based in New York, Georgia and North Carolina also remain open.

For the third quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, Herman Miller recorded sales of $665.7 million, up 7.5 percent from the $619 million in the same period a year earlier, the company reported earlier this month.

At the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2020, the company had $111 million in cash on hand and availability on its revolving credit facility of $266 million. Since the end of the quarter, the company withdrew $265 million on its revolving credit facility as a precautionary measure to provide additional near-term liquidity, according to the statement. 

Herman Miller is also closely managing spending levels, capital investments, and working capital and has temporarily suspended share repurchase activity as part of managing cash flows during this period.

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