SC Biz News is speaking with small businesses and community leaders about the impact of the new coronavirus on business and industry, and how this is changing how they operate.
Contact Andy Owens, [email protected], with any questions or ideas.
Andrea Limehouse said her company has had trouble making plans because of how fast things have been changing around the new coronavirus.
“This has unrolled in such an unexpected fashion,” she said. “I mean, I really was not anticipating this to have happened this quickly.”
The vice president of Limehouse Produce in North Charleston said the company started to see a 15% downturn Friday, compared with typical deliveries, and it’s only gotten worse. Limehouse said the company saw 66% fewer deliveries Wednesday compared with a week ago.
The company is still making deliveries to restaurants that are providing pickup and delivery items for customers, as well as medical facilities and schools that are making food for students to pick up over the next few weeks.
The company is also working closely with area food banks to provide them with discounted produce.
Limehouse said Limehouse Produce has only about half of its usual crew working, and overnight employees have been leaving early.
“We’d like to try to keep staff paid as best we can,” she said. “We’ll see how this plays out, but we’re not planning on laying anybody off right now.”
Limehouse added that the company is committed to taking care of its employees.
“We pay 100% of their health benefit premiums, and we’re trying to keep some sort of weekly salary where they can live,” she said. “We’re giving them all produce to take twice a week so they will have at least that base covered. But this is definitely unprecedented.”
Limehouse Produce has implemented increased sanitation at its warehouse and in its trucks, making sure that drivers wipe down their trucks. The company also is providing the drivers with gloves.
Some clients have asked Limehouse Produce to no longer come into their facility until further notice.
“We’ve had several accounts where they don’t want us in their building, and they want us to ring a doorbell and then have the product situated and they come and handle the entry into the building,” Limehouse said.
Limehouse said she hopes the government comes up with a plan to keep the public safe and keep businesses afloat.
“This is going to be economically crushing, obviously,” she said. “And it’s going to take awhile, but we will recover sooner or later.”l