The unexpected good neighbor partnerships that have been forged are the silver linings of the COVID-19 crisis.
One example of these partnerships is the solution to a problem Great Lakes Energy recently faced. Leadership recognized the importance of wearing face masks to avoid the spread of the disease and wanted to provide all its employees with masks. Supplies, however, became short in a hurry after the crisis hit.
GLE’s CEO Bill Scott serves as chairman of the board of directors for the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA), a regional economic development organization headquartered in Boyne City. Through that connection, word of GLE’s need reached NLEA President Andy Hayes. In turn, Hayes contacted Robin Stanley, CFO of Industrial Magnetics Inc. in Boyne City and vice-chair of the NLEA board. Hayes asked if the company could go into face mask production to quickly meet GLE’s need. While that wasn’t possible, Stanley thought of her own neighbors, an Amish family she knew, and approached them.
This particular family—part of the Jordan Valley Amish in the East Jordan area—moved to the area in 2016 with five other families from LeRoy to form a new community that now includes nearly a dozen Amish families. The extended Amish community members willingly took on the task of hand-producing the masks requested by GLE.
Like most Amish, this community does not use electricity. For the face mask project, they did, however, use electric sewing machines powered by solar and propane generators on the premises. Working under the illumination of propane lights, they produced 748 masks over four working sessions. Ten women at a time performed the sewing, with men cutting the pattern that Stanley found on the internet and provided to them.
Here’s the “good neighbor” part: GLE offered to provide material and pay this Amish community for producing the masks. When GLE was unable to quickly provide material, the Amish group used their own fabric for the masks (which was later replenished by GLE) and chose not to charge GLE for their labor.
“This was a classic example of how networking pays off,” observes Scott. He notes that GLE plans to donate to a school building fund the Amish community group has established. GLE will also recognize Stanley with a plaque as thanks for her role in this time-critical project.
GLE promotes “Power. Purpose. You.” The generosity, kindness, and caring shown by the Amish community members and others involved in this project to keep GLE employees safe puts meaning behind the phrase.