Coping with COVID: L.H. Brubaker Shares its Safety Guidelines

The Frank family of L.H. Brubaker includes, from left, Andrew, Nesha, Donald Jr., Kathy, Donald Sr., Donald H. Frank, Elnora and Lacy See.

By Andy Kriege, YSN

L.H. Brubaker Appliances & Water Treatment is a family-owned appliance chain in Eastern Pennsylvania with three stores and 67 employees, and owner Don Frank Sr. takes the health and safety of his staff and customers very seriously.

In order to operate safely after the county was declared a coronavirus “hotspot,” the BrandSource dealer developed a comprehensive manual on how to conduct business during the pandemic. The safety guide is titled COVID-19 Exposure Prevention, Preparedness and Procedures Plan, and Frank is making it available to fellow independent dealers.

The manual was compiled by the company’s  HR Director Donna Perkins, who spent a great deal of time viewing webinars from local Chambers of Commerce, the builder industry, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before pulling it all together. Frank believes it is important to share the manual with other independents to offer some guidelines on operating safely in a “new normal” that may last for some time.

The complete document can be found here.

The Brubaker plan consists of seven major areas of emphasis:

• Managers’ and supervisors’ responsibilities

• Employees’ responsibilities

• Protective workplace measures to keep customers and employees safe

• Additional procedures for sales and inside staff

• Delivery/installation and service tech procedures

• What to do if an employee shows symptoms or tests positive

• Record-keeping/confidentiality & privacy issues

L.H. Brubaker was forced to close its doors in March after Pennsylvania initially determined that the business was not essential. Frank filed for waivers several times before his classification was reversed, and was informed that he could have been open all along. “The process was extremely frustrating and cost us some downtime for sure,” he noted.

Throughout the crisis the company has been encouraging customers to order online or over the phone in lieu of or to minimize store visits. Showroom sales are by appointment only, and L.H. Brubaker is encouraging curbside pick-up or crate drop whenever possible to further minimize physical contact with customers.

The team has also placed markers on the sales floors to demarcate social distancing, plus barriers at the sales counters to separate staff from customers. There is no sharing of phones, desks, computers or other office products, and in the event that sharing is unavoidable, the items are to be disinfected before and after. The service teams are similarly instructed not to use each other’s’ tools.

Frank said it is important that all managers and staff familiarize themselves with the safety plan and that the entire team executes on it. “Everyone on your staff must buy in and play a part in mitigating the spread of the virus,” he instructed managers. Conversely, the company has made sure to fully equip all employees to carry out the safety procedures. “We supply them with everything they need to get the job done safely,” Frank said, “and have communicated to them the guidelines for how their job is to be conducted during the crisis. They all know what to do.”

In line with the manual, employees must follow the guidelines set by the CDC for handwashing and social distancing, and report if they are experiencing any COVID-19-related symptoms. Face masks are also required, for both staff and visiting vendors, and are provided by the company.

“I was very surprised and happy at how well my staff accepted all of the new policies that we had to put in place,” Frank said. “We broke them up into groups of 10 or so and went over what each and every one of the procedures was and what our expectations are. We let them know how serious this was and that there would be no joking around. In fact, we wore our face masks when we presented and explained the document to them.”

Despite being located in a Pennsylvania hotspot — and due perhaps to the company’s stringent safety measures — no one on the L.H. Brubaker team nor any of their family members have been infected by the virus. While no one can predict when normal business operations will resume, Frank said he is looking forward to the day when the lockdown ends, and people can get back to living their lives again.

BrandSource is a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc.