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12 PCB007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2020 numbers and were on track to source around 200,000 boards for COVID-19 related equip- ment. Matties: How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact Calumet's op- erations? LaBeau: Prior to COVID-19 spreading across the U.S. and before Michigan entered a state of lockdown, we were already experiencing a large uptick in demand. When COVID-19 hit in March, demand surged to almost twice our production capacity. Like many businesses, we were concerned about workforce attrition and working to understand if our operation would be considered critical manufacturing. Then, we adjusted our per- spective on the problem. Instead of planning for reduced capacity, we realized we had a job to do. We had to push our output beyond its normal limit to meet the needs of our cus- tomers and bolster the supply of PCBs for life-saving medical equipment. Instead of be- ing defeated by the uncertainty of COVID-19, we had to push our hardest to be part of the solution. Matties: We have this saying: "What if we re- ally tried?" Brassard: Exactly. What could we do if we pulled out all the stops? It was not business as usual; we simply had to do better and do it quickly. In just a few days, we had a plan that moved office staff with manufacturing experi- ence back onto the floor, we leveraged employ- ee cross-training and moved people around with agility to ensure proper staffing, and we started a campaign to hire and grow our manu- facturing workforce. For a period, output grew by 39%, eventually settling between 20–25%. LaBeau: We have been able to sustain a 23% increase. That's not a small accomplishment for a PCB shop. Matties: It's about mindset. You had to change your mind- set to really make the best of this opportunity. Your work- force knew they were a part of something special, especially when making the ventilator boards, and that they were re- ally contributing to the well- being of the world. LaBeau: Our employees found pride in being able to supply these ventilator boards, espe- cially in a time of crisis for the nation. Fundamentally, it was a reset on what our jobs meant at Calumet. We all had to understand where we could cross- train, rapidly move resources, and support manufacturing by solving bottlenecks and out- ages instantly. We are still using many of those tactics from March and April, which is helping us sustain the increase in output, but we also have plans to increase manufacturing output again by the start of 2021 as demand contin- ues to be strong and we continue to invest in people, equipment, and our facility. Brassard: It's very much about mindset. We found solidarity of purpose and focused on what we do best—manufacturing PCBs. The principles we committed to at the onset of CO- VID-19 were simple. First, keep our workforce healthy and safe. Second, we understood the value and importance of having jobs when so many of our friends and family are unem- ployed. Finally, we understood that our role in the electronics supply chain was incredibly im- portant, that our customers and their employ- ees were equally relying on Calumet not to fall down during a crisis. Matties: As a leader, what lessons have you learned, and how have you changed? Brassard: That success requires leadership, not just from top management, but at every level within a company. That a business is often full of talented and capable people, and it's impor- Todd Brassard

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