Works talks B&W closure due to COVID-19

Closing B&W Trailer Hitches because of the coronavirus health scare was "gut-wrenching," plant owner Joe Works said. Taking measures voluntarily may prevent having to take more drastic moves later on.

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Local News

March 23, 2020 - 10:30 AM

B&W Trailer Hitches Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register
Joe Works

HUMBOLDT — On Thursday, management at B&W Trailer Hitches made the decision to close its doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to better understand the process behind the closure and beyond, the Register corresponded with B&W owner and general manager Joe Works.

As he explained, “[t]his was, and still is, a particularly brutal, gut-wrenching and heart-breaking decision to make.” Despite demand, production and leadership all being strong, “[i]ntrusion by the [coronavirus] … has come as a shock.”

According to Works, “B&W formed an emergency task force last week, and met daily to gather information and perspectives about [COVID-19] and its spread.”

After weighing the relevant data and consulting with a medical professional, on March 19 members of management decided to close the plant.

Works added that “[w]e closed because we want to be part of the solution, not wait and be part of the problem. Being proactive is a trait we practice, and we understand that the nature of an epidemic is that it is easiest to stop one at the beginning.”

He also said it was important to “implement action while it was voluntary, rather than wait for the disease to dictate actions to us.”

Works agreed that those managing the plant felt they had a responsibility to society as well, and “to protect one another.”

The employees at B&W frequently refer to themselves as a family, and believe that “[c]aring, and acting on that care, is a foundational concept.”

Given the financial impact of the closure on both employees and customers/dealers, Works said he hoped it would be possible to reopen quickly, but added it was important to be patient and see how the situation continued to unfold.

Like many other businesses and industries, B&W may suffer financially from the closure. However, Works said he thought that “closing the plant is the right way to protect business long term.”

He concluded by noting that, in terms of dealing with COVID-19, it is fortunate the plant is located in a sparsely populated area of the country, and hopes that “everyone will follow the guidelines and [help] stop the spread of the disease.”

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