Thursday, June 11th, 2020 - Communication #18
To all Boathouse Employees:
The past 3 months have been different but we have successfully been able to pivot our business with “protection” products and we have begun to ship our backlog of Team orders to our core customers. It is because of your efforts that we have been able to persevere and progress in the face of adversity. We’d like to thank everyone for their efforts in servicing our customer and the community. “DOING THE RIGHT THING” is not just a campaign about helping our community and providing meaningful work to our workforce. Doing the Right Thing is part of the Culture of Boathouse. We have made nearly 250,000 masks and over 75,000 medical gowns; an accomplishment we can be proud of executing so quickly.
Workers whom have engaged with Boathouse have been rewarded with a safe work environment, steady work and “bonus” pay for the past 8-10 weeks. We will continue this bonus pay through the end of the June. As the country is re-opening and restrictions being lifted, we revert to “normal wages” in July. It is important to note that we still have many workers whom have not returned to the business and many still working part time. We will attempt to keep the resources here running at full hours as long as we have demand from new orders.
Our current focus will be on making sure we can service existing orders and our new growing “protection” business. Schools are now beginning to announce plans to return and this will have a direct impact on our ability to increase production on core products (outerwear and team uniforms) as well as orders for our growing menu of protection products. We are working on the new catalog and planning a number of new “protection” items as we speak. We will continue to compete.
Thanks to all whom have helped us get to this point.
John & Kent
Thursday, May 7th, 2020 - Communication #17
To Boathouse Team,
At the end of last week we were approved for our CARES ACT PPP Loan and this week we were funded. This gives additional capital to help us fund our business through this period. While we believe schools will be back in session in the fall, we do believe there will be a significant risk that fall sports will not play. For this reason, we will manage cash tightly with the understanding that the core team market will see significant disruption for many months. We will carefully bring back staff that is wholly focused on making product or selling it; support staff will be limited and we will take the opportunity to re-evaluate certain business practices so we can be efficient at lower level of activity. We must attempt to be profitable. Everyone rejoining the organization should understand that things are different and all can expect that job responsibilities may change to adjust to a “new normal”. We should be very proud of our efforts to date, creating a safe work environment and in finding meaningful work for our employees to support our communities and DO THE RIGHT THING.
John and Kent
Thursday, April 30th, 2020 - Communication #16
First off, we hope that all of you are safe. Today capped off the end of a busy week. We learned today that we were approved for our CARE ACT PPP loan, this brings significant liquidity (more cash) to the business to help us get through this very difficult period. There was a lot of news of small businesses being pushed out of the 1st pas and we were one of them. We should receive funding late next week so we will be beginning to execute plans to restart our factory and remain focused on growing our business.
Production of masks and gowns will continue and we are still under “life sustaining” orders from the Governor of Pennsylvania, we may see some easing of restrictions over the next 2-3 weeks.
Today, we sent more than 18,000 masks to CHOP, 13,000 masks to WAWA, and 6,000 medical gowns to FEMA and we are nearing the ability to launch a custom mask offering to the public.
Kent & John
Friday, April 17th, 2020 - Communication #15
To our Employees, ** IMPORTANT PLEASE READ **
I’m reaching out to you ALL to ask you to come back to work if you can. We need help “Doing the Right Thing” which means – to help solve the COVID 19 crises; to continue to provide work and wages to our valued employees and to make sure Boathouse is here in the future.
About 30 – 40 of our team have been working hard the past few weeks making masks and surgical gowns for hospital nurses, doctors and front line staff. We are also making cloth masks for the public and businesses. I want to thank ALL of you who are here now working. We have some staff from Sales and Customer service and Graphics who are working in the factory on the Gowns project. But we need more of us to come back to work if you can, especially sewers.
Please know that you should stay home if you are sick, have health issues or if you are taking care of family. We do not expect you to come back to work nor do we want you to come back if you are sick, have health issues or must take care of your family. Your health and your family are more important than the business!
However – if you can come back to work I am hoping you will come back to work. We have increased pay for those who are working full time. We will continue to pay higher wages to those who come back to work. We are considering some options including work flexibility if this helps you financially. We are making sure the work environment is as safe as possible. All are issued gloves and masks and we are cleaning constantly. We are also making sure that all workers are as far apart as possible.
Your supervisor will reach out to you directly to understand better why you are not coming to work. Health, family, money, fear. All are reasonable answers. And if you can come back to work we will try to accommodate your needs as best as possible.
Thank you very much.
John & Kent
Thursday, April 9th, 2020 - Communication #14
A lot of continued activity in the plant and a number of product updates:
Medical Masks: We have palletized the first shipment to local hospital ready. These are being used in hospitals for back office, nurses, doctors and patients.
Cloth Masks: Brian, Mike and a limited team began making cloth masks for consumers and businesses per CDC recommendation. We will build volume of these over the next few days and weeks.
- Surgical Gowns: Meredith is leading & managing the build out and staffing to make FDA approved Surgical Gowns. We hope to have 20-30 people working within the next two weeks. We are stating this line next week with a few people. This work does not involve sewing so we are not consuming resources to make masks. These will be distributed to Medical world (hospitals, doctors, nurses and patients) and we are working with a large multi-national effort to do this (Jockey/ Hanes).
We are doing everything we can to “Do the Right Thing”, by making product that is needed and getting our employees back to work in a safe and healthy environment. There are constraints at the moment though we hope to limit these and get more Boathouse people back on a daily basis as soon as possible. It is taking a huge effort to achieve only creating a small percentage of or normal daily revenue.
So all are aware, Boathouse has applied for SBA loans available through the 2 Trillion Dollar Federal act. Additionally, we applied as soon as the site went up for the PPP ( Paycheck Protection Program). We hope to hear back re both in the next few days or weeks.
Chris is working part time from home keeping our marketing effort going for when the market does return and we are using a Public Relations firm get our messages out and make more aware of the Boathouse brand and what we do.
Thanks - Be safe.
John & Kent
Tuesday, April 7th, 2020 - Communication #13
There has been a lot of feedback from sales and others regarding desire to buy masks for self or someone you knows interest. Our social media is lighting up interest from around the country. Right now, nearly 100% of our effort is on helping our local hospital, Children’/s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) with a very large order and we will make our first shipment to them within the next few days. The material for that project was provided by CHOP and ZERO of that inventory is available for personal use or for sale.
We have started a separate line to produce a simple plain cloth (non-medical) masks which is washable. Initially these will be made from Versa-Dri but we may use other materials. These will only be sold online and in 20 unit bulk packs. This is being done purposely to cut down on the number of people required for fulfillment. These will be initially WHITE and will quickly transition to produce a few colors and patterns (no customer choice). In a few weeks we will produce to certain patterns where customers can select from and possibly by the summer (if needed), we can offer something more. We will only sell these out of inventory off Shopify. The website will help manage inventory and we expect that when ready, these will constantly sell out. When we are ready to share externally, we will let you know.
We are making progress on our “plastic gown” project. This project also has a known customer whom will take all we can build. Meredith is leading this effort and we already have 4 heat seal machines set up and fabric due to arrive end of week and early next week. This project possibly will need 20-30 people.
Good Friday Bonus: We shared with employees working this week that those that worked all 4 days and next Monday, will receive HOLIDAY PAY for the Good Friday holiday.
Full Week Bonus: Starting next week, employees whom are scheduled to work and whom work all 4 TEN HOUR shifts next week, will receive an EXTRA 8 hours pay. You must work all 4 days scheduled and this only applies to those working within the facility. We hope that this will encourage others to help us support our community as we work to get other business functions back to work.
As a reminder, we are now considered a “Life Sustaining & Essential” business. As such, we have made a lot of efforts to ensure a safe working environment for our employees, this includes:
- Adequate spacing (work stations > 6 feet apart)
- Reduced need to move throughout the facility for most people
- Daily cleaning of plant and office surfaces
- Issuing of PPE (gloves and masks)
- Spacing in cafeteria
Thanks everyone for your patience.
- John & Kent
Friday, April 3rd, 2020 - Communication #12
I am sorry we did not post any communication yesterday but there has been a lot of activity trying to jumpstart our business. The people whom have been able to come back to work are working very hard so that others can get back as soon as possible. The distance between work stations may be impersonal, but a lot of work can get done when everyone is focused on DOING THE RIGHT THING. Some updates to close out our week:
- We have made over 7,000 masks for CHOP and now have a fully functioning production process on this critical need. We are picking up materials daily simply to keep the lines fed with components.
- In light of the national directive to wear masks where possible, we are have started a second line making external facing product that we can offer to the outside world from our own fabrics. These will be fulfilled off the website and should launch early next week as we have prepackaged inventory ready to move. More info to follow...
- We are beginning to look like more than a garment mfg company … we are stocking up on gloves, sanitizer, executing cleaning procedures and may need to install more controls as we take on more hospital business
- We continue to need any/ all of our sewing personnel to help us with mask production – others will follow as we are able to slowly restart servicing existing customer demand or non-sewing needs
- Planning has begun on another medical product offering working with Hanes/Jockey Consortium which will help provide the needed equipment/ fabric to execute additional efforts. We believe this effort will help get more non-sewing employees re-engaged at Boathouse soon. The planning and execution will begin next week.
- We have formally submitted our proposal for funding from the federal government – many businesses are doing this. JB submitted our proposal this morning and we were within the first 2,000 companies in the country to submit … and that submission was as soon as we were able to enter it.
Stay safe –
John and Kent
Wednesday, April 1st, 2020 - Communication #11
Boathouse Team… a lot of progress today:
1. We added a number of sewers today and more set to come back next week!! Thank you!
2. We produced over 2,000 masks today in our second day of production !!!
3. We are shipping! Orders on hold shelf and orders that were redirected back to the factory are starting to ship out
4. We are developing a simple “cloth” mask (made out of versa dri) to be made available in 20 packs online – we hope to have something ready to sell before the weekend.
Thanks for everyone’s efforts inside and outside the plant … focus on keeping your family healthy and safe
DO THE RIGHT THING
- John & Kent
Here is your April Fool picture – I hope this brings a smile to everyone face... Fool pictured below in a full body Supplex Hazard Suit.
Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 - Communication #10
Boathouse Team … Just a brief update on 3 important points on our DO THE RIGHT THING effort:
- All Boathouse employees whom came to work today had access to PPE, good social distancing and are able to work safely
- Today, we made over 800 medical grade masks today in our first day and that number will climb substantially
- Boathouse is making the April healthcare payment for all on the company’s healthcare program
Numbers will grow as we bring additional folks back to work. It should not be lost on the rest of our Boathouse community that we still have a lot of people not working. We will work as hard as possible to get us “back to normal”.
Thanks for everyone’s efforts inside and outside the plant … focus on keeping your family healthy and safe
- John & Kent
Thursday, March 30th, 2020 - Communication #9
First and foremost please know that the Health of the Boathouse family, our employees and their families, are most important right now. The plan outlined herein puts heath of all of us first.
We want to DO THE RIGHT THING! All should be proud when we have that opportunity and WE MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES. To us that means we help hospitals by making PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) for the front line Doctors, Nurses, patients and first responders. Secondly the “Right Thing” is to get our employees back to work. Both of which will help strengthen US and the company when this pandemic is over.
We have identified a unique supply of PPE materials sitting in hospitals. We have designed masks for surgical use that were approved by CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). We received our first lot of these materials from CHOP today at 1:00 PM. We now have an order form CHOP for 31,000 masks. We start making these tomorrow!
We expect to bring sewers into the factory beginning tomorrow to assemble and make these masks for our community. Our plan to begin is 15-18 sewers plus support, tomorrow.
We are taking every precaution to assure the health and safety of all working inside the building. These include:
- All will be issued gloves and masks.
- We have been cleaning all surfaces constantly and will continue to do so.
- We will place sewers or anyone on the plant floor at least 6 feet apart.
- Movement of parts form one person to another will be handled by handler with gloves in containers.
This order will not get everyone back to work right away but our hope is to scale production capacity over the course of a few weeks, adding more resources to get our facility moving in a safe manner.
We are working with 14+ local hospital groups and other government contract businesses to ascertain their needs and to try to find other value added work for us to perform until our base business can return.
Thanks everyone for your patience – stay safe
John & Kent
Thursday, March 26th, 2020 - Communication #8
This will be a quick update but a good one. Today was a good day at Boathouse. Special thanks to Meredith, Emma and Brian.
- We improved our design, shown here to the left
- We received the GREEN LIGHT from the State for our exemption to open when we begin production of the masks
- We have an approved product with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
We will work out a production plan and safety procedures that will allow employees to work in a safe environment. We hope to have some of our team back to work next week. Last outstanding item is to either secure fabric from the hospital directly or our own.
Revised design with Hospital provided fabric – 1 team could likely crank out 400 per day!
John & Kent
Thursday, March 26th, 2020 - PAY STUBS AND CHECKS
I would just like to let everyone know that ALL BOATHOUSE HQ pay stubs and checks were put into the mail. We’re mailing out all of to reduce the need for people to travel.
John & Kent
Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 - Communication #7
Kent, myself and JB are sitting in the factory war room, far apart from each other. Meredith, Emma, Andrea and Brian are on the cutting floor working on patterns and samples for making PPE. We are taking steps to convert our workplace to making PPE per previous communications. This will solve a number of problems including keeping cash coming in to Boathouse and allowing us to continue until this pandemic is over. More importantly, it’s the right thing to do! We believe we are days away from a solution that may provide some immediate healthcare value and speaking with multiple contacts about how we can help them.
Additionally we are investigating getting more industry specific fabrics into our factory in Philadelphia as fast as possible. This may take a while to purchase and receive reasonable yardage quickly. We are working with Burlington Mills, Milliken Industries and more to get stuff in here.
Kent has submitted another exemption request in order for us to be able to open the facility. We hope to have an update within days as to our ability to re-open to produce these and other garments.
Thanks for your patience, many are working hard to make this pivot a reality.
John and Kent
Original note regarding this effort that was sent to all of our customers:
To the Boathouse community:
For 30+ years Boathouse has been manufacturing custom athletic apparel for Schools and Teams nationwide and abroad.
We have always been committed to doing the right thing over these three decades, including manufacturing all of Boathouse apparel here in our vertically integrated, Philadelphia USA factory.
We employ hundreds full time with good pay and benefits. As our core business has come to a halt we have dedicated our company and ourselves to solving two of today’s most immediate problems.
We are ready to pivot all of our assets including our people, equipment, facilities and time to make urgently needed medical coats, masks, gowns, protective gear, etc.
We will operate with utmost care for our employees, with daily and constant cleaning of all surfaces that come into contact with people and by requiring employees to follow CDC personal care protocol.
We are committed to helping the medical community as much as we possibly can. And we are committed to helping our employees, many of whom are hourly workers that have been with us for more than 10 years.
Best to all,
John Strotbeck | Founder/CEO
M Kent Zambelli | President/COO
The Boathouse Team
Monday, March 23rd, 2020 - Communication #6
To all of our employees:
Due to the mandatory shutdown requirement from the Governor of Pennsylvania. effective Thursday, March 19th the facility was closed. Due to this shutdown, we will be unable to open the plant for at least the next 2-4 weeks and as such, we must immediately "furlough" all employees.
- Plant and HQ employees will receive their next payroll THIS Friday for hours/ time worked through last Friday and salaried employees will be reduced by changes we put in motion last week.
- We expect all paychecks/ stubs to BE MAILED OUT - if that changes we will let you know
- Sales employees, including our 4 inside sales people, will be receive their next check next Monday and that pay will also be affected by reductions as communicated last week in our call.
- I encourage all employees in all business functions to seek our unemployment payments in your state, many rules are being relaxed and many will no longer have a waiting period. Pennsylvania residents, click here for more info.
- At this point in time, we intend to make both the company and employee healthcare payments for the month of April so coverage continues after this month, if that changes, we will let everyone know
After Monday, we will temporary halt all payroll to all employees.
A very limited staff will be engaged to monitor online chat, customer service, pay bills, process payroll. We will attempt to keep costs to a bare minimum and then restart as we are able. We will communicate to customers that we will be closed and fulfill their orders when we return. I would ask that all sales opportunities continue to be closed in HubSpot and ask for Inside sales help this week to move orders into "Converted" status.
We have submitted an exemption request to re-open the plant and actively seeking the ability to produce "Life Sustaining" production of medical garments for the healthcare and medical industry. A small team will work on this effort and if successful,. may allow us to reopen the plant faster. As we are able to move forward on this, I will let everyone know.
This will be a very difficult time period for our plant community. Please do what you can to be safe, limit social contact and hope that we can re-open our business soon. We continue to get feedback from customers wanting to buy and have changed all marketing messaging to be forward looking to pre-season and the summer.
Thank you and please be safe.
John & Kent
Friday, March 20th, 2020 - Communication #5
Unfortunately I must share that there has not been much of a change in status in the last 24 hours. The management team is working on a few different initiatives which include an exemption to the shutdown order, financial support and a possible repurposing of the factory to produce other products in the short run. None of these are guaranteed or will happen right away.
Matt is working with the sales group to continue to secure orders from customers. We will review next week based on how to proceed with processing those orders.
Next week we expect to be 100% down in the Plant/ HQ with the exception of payroll processing. We intend to process plant payroll for normal disbursement and prepare the following week for sales payroll which is processed the week after and then ready ourselves for April’s healthcare payment at the end of the month.
John and I understand how difficult this is for everyone and we know there are more questions than answers.
As everyone will feel the effects financially within the next 2 weeks I would strongly recommend you begin looking into unemployment processing which will address those whom are affected with any negative impact. Government agencies are fast tracking applications in some cases so normal waiting periods may not apply. Each state will have its own process. Use your paystub to find relevant info you will need for your application.
I will continue to share news, good or bad, as it becomes available. I expect our next update will be on Monday.
Thanks, be safe.
John and Kent
Thursday, March 19th, 2020 - Communication #4B
As many of you have heard, the Governor of Pennsylvania ordered all non life sustaining businesses to close effective this evening at 8pm. We will comply with that order. All HQ/ Plant employees are directed to not come to the plant until you receive direction. At this time, the length of time of the mandatory shutdown is unknown.
Additionally, there are laws that have and are working through both the state legislature and US Congress. It is unknown the precise impact this will have but the intent of the legislation is specifically targeted at relief for businesses with fewer than 500 people and their employees and families.
What’s going on:
- We will be processing our company payroll on Monday as planned and disburse pay next Friday as normal. This payroll will reflect hours/ days worked and be affected by the changes we communicated over the past few days as applicable.
- We will continue to accept sales from sales reps and online sources. Sales should move orders into Ready Status and we will figure how/if/when we can convert those orders. Team stores should remain open.
We expect there to be a lot of questions and we will be working to understand how this affects our operation and our employees in the short term and long term.
This move by the state and federal government should highlight how important this is, please do your part by ensuring you and your family are safe and follow the guidelines from CDC and governmental officials.
John and Kent
Thursday, March 19th, 2020 - Communication #4
We’ve implemented our plan for Boathouse effective Yesterday. Priorities for this plan are:
- Health of our employees. We are doing everything we can to make the facility as clean as possible and continue to ship and provide income to most.
- All employees have been affected by pay reductions or furlough.
- The plan is based on the long term financial health of Boathouse. Severe reductions in costs had to be implemented immediately.
- The plan has a future look out to August. Of course we do not know what may change Nationally or locally that will effect Boathouse.
- Currently, the plan allows us to continue health care for all employees for this month … right now we intend to cover April
- We are assuming significant reduction to volume for the next 4 weeks; and we feel the risk we do not “get back to normal” until the end of the summer.
- We are accelerating marketing programs for our core business for fall business and at once business in order to capture demand.
Thank you all for your understanding. Please work effectively and efficiently and most importantly remain safe and healthy and take care of your family.
John and Kent
Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 - Communication #3
Last night, the governor declared manufacturing companies were consider “essential businesses”. Today there were no changes to our strategy to operate and manage the plant at a reduced level. We spent the day cleaning on the plant floor and in preparation for a limited plant operational staff to restart the plant tomorrow. Those employees have been contacted. Additionally, we have a sales/ customer service plan to support the plant moving forward. Externally, we have communicated with our customers and we are launching a number of promotions to help aid the salesforce in securing additional business.
I would like to ask you exclusively use the this page (www.boathouse.com/news) to get updates. We will let you know if conditions change. As always, please make sure you are attending to your family.
Tuesday, March 17th, 2020 - Communication #2
To all Boathouse Employees:
We have formed an executive team to help guide us through this challenge. This team includes Mike, JB, Matt, Omar, Brian and myself and John. This team is focused on ensuring we are considering the entire Boathouse community, measuring business performance and constantly looking ahead to what we know will be changing market conditions.
Of utmost importance is the health and safety of our employees. We are working to ensure that the business can stay operating and deals with the reality of a constantly changing market.
I believe the Boathouse community can expect the following:
We expect incoming demand (new orders) to be very limited in the next 2 weeks and continue to be low into the spring. While we want to maintain operations (producing and selling activity) we must dramatically slow down the operation or we can foresee running out of work. I expect that outside conditions will continue to worsen. This will have a significant financial impact to Boathouse as a business and to our entire community of employees, there is no way to avoid this.
We will create a production plan to operate somewhere around half our normal production output. I expect limited operations this week and we will have a plan for the next 2 weeks to operate on a limited basis. We will have to significantly pull back on support staff that will align itself to only what is needed to support limited sales and operations. Where we can have people work remotely, we will. However, ability to work remotely does not offset the real issue of not having enough immediately active work to execute against.
We will put in place some enhanced cleaning efforts in the plant and will have limited staff so we can reduce social distancing.
This will impact all the plant’s hourly employees, the salesforce and the office functions. People being asked to return to work will be contacted by your manager by the end of the day. I would ask everyone be sensitive to others … there will be many of our employees whom will not be working for the remainder of the month.
How will this affect me financially?
- Hourly workers that are scheduled to work will be paid hours worked as normal
- Hourly workers that we select to work remotely will be paid for the hours scheduled
- Salaried workers will receive their prorated pay for the days we assign
- Sales pay will have to be adjusted to more closely match active selling activities
- The company portion of the health benefits for employees on our health plan is covered through the end of the month.
- We cannot communicate impact to April benefits at this time. We understand the hardship that this will have on the Boathouse community. We are seeking federal and state support but at this time have limited understanding how this will work. You are encouraged to seek out unemployment assistance. If market conditions worsen, we may have to change our plans and/ or take additional actions. Your manager will be reaching out to address our future work schedule for the balance of the week. We will not be prepared to release that information until the end of the business day. Please focus on your families, limit contact and practice good personal cleaning. The ability of the Philadelphia region or wherever you reside is 100% driven by all of us limiting contact with others. If you are sick, please do not come to work.
Monday, March 16, 2020 3:34 PM - Communication #1
To All Boathouse Employees and Associates:
The City of Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania have ordered all non-essential businesses to close at 5pm today, however we have been given limited direction and guidance as to exactly whom this applies. To give the management team some time to ensure we have the best plan for our business and our employees, we will BE CLOSED TOMORROW, Tuesday, March 17th.
Tomorrow will be considered an unpaid holiday for our workforce and will affect all employees. We will provide further guidance after we have been able to secure more information from either the city and peer organizations. The extra 24 hours will give us the time to review options and have a solid execution plan.
We will have a small team here tomorrow, including phone, finance, online chat and customer service coverage.
We have established two methods so we can keep you up to date on what is happening. We will use the following primary methods to keep you aware of how things progress:
Call Boathouse at 1-800-875-1883 and press Option 7 – we will leave messages regarding the facility
Please reference this page for all the latest Boathouse Employee News. If you are a Boathouse Employee, please bookmark this page and check back for the latest employee news.