As the fight against COVID-19 continues, the team at Fastener Engineering (FE) has been interviewing essential manufacturers and suppliers. We’ve been interested in learning how companies are coping and handling the workload — particularly given the current rules and restrictions, such as social distancing.
In this Q&A, Harry Arnon, president and CEO of Hernon Manufacturing Inc., shares the experience and efforts of his company to continue operation and support critical industries, including the medical sector. Hernon is a U.S.-based manufacturer of high-tech adhesives and sealants. The company began more than 40 years ago from Arnon’s home basement and it has since grown into a global manufacturer, exporting to 60 countries with hundreds of distributors.
As per the company’s website: “Hernon Manufacturing is a key supplier supporting Essential Critical Infrastructure for the U.S. Federal Government and Military. As such, we have a special responsibility to maintain our normal work schedule despite any challenge our community faces.”
Here, Arnon answers our questions…
FE: Can you first please tell us a little more about Hernon and the type of work and manufacturing the company provides?
Arnon: My pleasure! Established in 1978, Hernon is a manufacturer of high-performance adhesives, sealants, UV curing, and application equipment. Our specialty and what makes us unique is that we offer a total solution, which means that we provide the chemistry, automated application equipment, and the UV curing technology. As a result, we can manufacture specialty sealants and automatically test and inspect products directly from our production line — so, it’s truly a complete package.
We supply to the automotive, aerospace, electrical, electronics, medical, military, communication, appliance, power generation, and transportation industries…just to name a few. We also cater to several niche markets, which includes ammunition sealing technology and form-in-place gaskets for the automotive sector. We’ve also developed a specialty structural adhesive that offers one of the highest levels of impact-resistance available in the world.
FE: You mentioned manufacturing products that can assist the medical industry — which I assume includes equipment such as ventilators, oxygenators, and concentrators. Is this correct?
Arnon: Absolutely, that is correct. We have been designated as an essential business in several key departments, such as for the army, aerospace and, of course, the medical sector.
You see, we manufacturer a wide selection of sealants for critical applications. These are important and unique sealants that are used in modern fighter jets and nuclear submarines, to provide a couple of examples. They’re also used in medical equipment, which is particularly significant today.
For instance, we produce sealants that are used in a pure oxygen environment. These are extremely unique formulations, which do not react in environments that most other sealants could never tolerate. Hernon’s Dripstop 950 is one example. It’s formulated to work specifically in 100% oxygenated environments, such as for sealing a tubing joint from an oxygen tank. It is fully oxygen compatible, chemically inert, and odor-free. Dripstop 950 can potentially be used for ventilators, medical breathing equipment, and concentrators.
FE: That’s excellent you’re able to support the medical industry and, especially, at this time. What changes have you had to make at your manufacturing facilities to adhere to the safety regulations, given COVID-19?
Arnon: The very first thing we did is stop all travel and visits to our facility to ensure our employees remain safe. We’ve also suspended all in-house meetings and are using conference calls, as well as a paging system to locate employees. This ensures minimum travel in the hallways and between rooms and offices, etc. We’ve also shared and continue to enforce the CDC guidelines to ensure safe distances and to make sure all staff members are aware of the guidelines.
We have an outside agency that cleans and disinfects our manufacturing facilities twice a week. Plus, we have a full-time employee whose daily task is to clean and disinfect all the doors, knobs, handles, chairs, the restrooms, and so on. Additionally, we have hand cleaners, such as Lysol sprays and disinfectant wipes available.
We’ve advised all of the Hernon employees to travel directly from home to work and back again when possible to minimize potential exposure. And, we are also strategizing so that if it becomes necessary to send more people offsite to work remotely that we have backups for that to continue operation.
FE: Thanks, Harry. Have you had to deal with any major challenges since the restrictions have been put into place or has it been a fairly smooth transition?
Arnon: You know, so far so good. We haven’t had to lay anyone off. We have zero employees infected with this terrible virus, which is very fortunate. Plus, we’ve been able to maintain a continuous supply to our customer base. We are also doing everything possible to reach our suppliers and ensure the availability of raw materials for ongoing operations.
FE: That’s wonderful to hear. Are there any final tips or anything more you’d like to share with others at this time?
Arnon: Yes, we encourage all of our colleagues to think of their employees first to ensure their health and safety. It’s also important to maintain communication with all customers and suppliers. And, don’t forget to apply for the stimulus packages such as the PPP, which is a paycheck protection program and the EIDL, the economic injury disaster loan program. I believe these programs will help most manufacturers maintain operation and potentially get out of this, unfortunate, economic situation.
Lastly, given the amount of stress and uncertainty, it’s imperative to try to offer a stress-free work environment if possible. And, we’d like to wish everyone all the best with hopes the current health and economic challenges end soon.
To learn more about Hernon Manufacturing, please click here.