While the COVID-19 pandemic may be unprecedented, it certainly isn’t the first major challenge that Milwaukee-based CG Schmidt has faced in its 100-year history. Over the years, the construction firm has found that challenging times both test a company’s values and provide unique opportunities to put those values into action.
CG Schmidt responded to the pandemic in several ways. It hosted a blood drive on site, providing enough blood to save 150 lives. Recognizing the nationwide shortage of hand sanitizer, it worked with client Froedtert Health and held bottling sessions to prepare 25,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for frontline workers.
“What really inspired me is just the way our people stepped up time and time again without being prompted or asked to find ways to help other people in the community that were in need,” said Rick Schmidt, president and chief executive officer of CG Schmidt.
The company also launched a virtual “Ask a Builder” program in which students had the opportunity to ask industry leaders questions about construction via free, weekly video chats. This was in response to the hardships that teachers and parents faced in offering engaging educational content to students during a time when many schools were shut down.
It also replaced similar Q&A sessions CG Schmidt participated in when working on school district projects.
“Our firm does a lot of K-12 school projects and typically our project teams will engage with the students at the school in their classrooms,” Schmidt said. “But with the onset of COVID-19, the schools were closed, the students were sent home, and our project teams really didn’t have an opportunity to connect with them the way that they normally would.
“So, our project teams used social media to help connect with the students and the staff, where they would solicit questions and they would answer the questions via YouTube to talk to the students and connect with the staff regarding the progress of the school, and allow them to ask questions about construction.”
Those activities were all taking place while CG Schmidt continued its work. Working through a pandemic means making sudden, major adjustments to operations.
Schmidt said the company quickly moved people from the office to their homes to continue working. But for employees working in the field, CG Schmidt had to create a number of new procedures, including temperature screenings, hand-washing and sanitization routines.
“I just can’t say enough about how our field people just stepped up and complied to the new procedures and requirements, and worked hard but still continued to keep everybody safe on our project sites,” Schmidt said.