"Even though I can’t stand on the front lines with the doctors, nurses, and first responders, I feel honored that I am able to help during this crisis. I feel it is my duty as an American to help our people and nation in any way possible during these times. It fills my heart with pride that I am able to contribute.”

Scotty Ness is a third shift loader at the Ryerson facility in Plymouth, Minnesota. His words encapsulate the feelings of hundreds of men and women going to work each day across Ryerson’s 100+ locations in North America, helping meet demand from manufacturers across the globe. Their role is vital in helping these companies produce products deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19.

From respirators to hospital beds, and from food processing equipment to storage tanks, many of the products that help keep the world’s population safe and healthy rely on metal. That fact doesn’t go unnoticed by those putting in the hours every day.

“Each day since this pandemic has broken out, those (in Atlanta) have come to work and performed their duties … they are aware of the fact that they are working for an essential company producing products to help in the war against the COVID-19 virus,” said Roger Curtin, second shift tube mill supervisor, Atlanta.

Ryerson strives to ensure its employees are equipped with the equipment and resources needed to keep them safe and healthy.

“Ryerson wasted no time in putting out literature for all employees on what they can do to keep themselves safe from catching the COVID-19 virus, established social distancing protocols for every location and how to prevent spreading the virus should someone come in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the virus,” said Doug Swanson, operations supervisor, Coon Rapids, Minnesota.

Ryerson also advised operational leaders on things that should be put in place for employees; items like hand sanitizer, antibacterial disinfectants and wipes for cleaning tools and equipment being used. But just as many Americans experienced shortages of items like masks and sanitizer throughout this pandemic, so too did the employees. In response, many applied their creativity and ingenuity while replenishments were on the way.

“We had mask-making sessions before commercial masks were available … and ensured that our location is cleaned on a regular schedule. We also strictly adhere to company safety policies that are in place for daily operations. Through these measures we are able to continue providing product that is needed by those in other essential business,” said Frank Anzur, operations manager at the Charlotte Sunbelt-Turret location. Sunbelt-Turret is part of the Ryerson Family of Companies.

He added, “Ryerson treats employees as family and we are proud to contribute in a small part in securing the safety and wellbeing of our ‘family’ members.”

Truth be told, no one was certain what to expect when this situation began to unfold. With workers across the country being told to stay home and limit their interaction with others, what would that mean for those providing an essential service?

"In the beginning, we were apprehensive of the unknown … but that quickly turned into pride,” said Carlos Raposo, operations manager for the Brampton facility in Ontario. “It’s pride in our role making a difference for those that are manufacturing products in the fight against COVID-19. It’s the men and women in operations who come to work every day who make a difference.”

As he sums up: “Collectively, we're not just servicing the essential businesses, but also helping the economy move forward."