The following is a letter from Phil Amerine, Ryerson's operations manager for the west coast.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold in the United States, the initial impact was felt on the west coast—right in the heart of the WestMex Multi-Market for Ryerson. It was a scary and unknown time for all of us, but I am very proud of how the WestMex operations group responded to the emergency. They became an example to other Ryerson locations who would soon be faced with the same threat.
As our country’s first deaths were being reported in Washington state, many families in the Seattle region were faced with an unknown health risk developing in our back yard. Concern and some panic began to monopolize both the local and national media. You would not have known the events were unfolding if you stepped into Ryerson’s Seattle facility. Employees remained focused on servicing Ryerson’s customers. Our employees did not panic but instead remained determined to stay safe and operational.
The country’s very first stay-home order impacted Alameda County in the San Francisco Bay area, where Ryerson’s Livermore facility is located. Employees in Livermore were the first in Ryerson to make the decision between sheltering at home or returning to work in the warehouse. Unanimously, Livermore employees made the decision to continue to work safely and service Ryerson’s essential customers supporting the fight against the pandemic. I feel the decisions made by Livermore employees established a standard for the rest of the WestMex and for the Ryerson enterprise.
Some alarming predictions came from California’s elected leadership early in the pandemic. We were told there was a concern that tens of millions of people in California contracting the illness. For a time, panic set in across the state. The opposite happened in Ryerson’s Los Angeles facility. All Ryerson employees continued to work safely and keep the LA facility operational. Some warehouse employees even volunteered to return from scheduled vacations to support Ryerson and its customers.
During this time, most grocery stores in southern California were picked clean of food and supplies. I heard multiple stories of Ryerson LA employees supporting each other by bringing food and supplies to work for Ryerson families who couldn’t find what they needed. As an example, one employee mentioned that he could not find a gallon of milk for his family. Without being asked, a supervisor brought in a gallon of milk the next day for the employee.
Inspiring stories like this played out across the WestMex Multi-Market in all locations. My gratitude and admiration go out to every operator, order filler, loader, maintenance tech, supervisor, and operations manager who remained on the front lines of this fight. We are winning thanks to you.