Franklin County Emergency Management (FCEM) in Pasco, Washington was in need. As the region’s department responsible for coordinating and establishing emergency response plans, FCEM was facing a shortage of protective masks and for essential workers.
The timing couldn’t have been tougher, as the state was planning to put into effect a new order requiring face masks or cloth face coverings in public, making the need greater, particularly for essential workers.
COVID-19 has continued to spread throughout the state, especially in heavily agricultural communities like those around Pasco and throughout the Columbia Basin region. Essential agricultural workers have remained on the jobsite and work in close proximity, making masks an important safety measure to help protect them. Keeping workers healthy also fights against another challenge in farming, one that’s been present long before COVID-19 hit: the labor shortage.
Part of the Safety Solution
Because of its role serving essential business, RDO Equipment Co. has continued to be open and operational throughout the pandemic. As part of its safety efforts in staying open, stores had already been providing masks for team members at all locations. So when the FCEM call came out, Ian Carey, Vice President of RDO’s Northwest Agriculture region, saw an opportunity to help. He knew he could quickly order more that could be donated to the community as well as their own customers, and address this crucial need.
“These workers need to feel safe and they need to stay healthy so they can continue to feed us, not just in this region, but across the globe,” Ian said. “We knew this was a challenge we could help solve, while being part of the safety solution.”
RDO stores in Washington and Oregon donated 1,000 masks to FCEM. The teams also took the opportunity to donate directly to their own agriculture customers in the area, providing another 1,000 to them across the company’s footprint in the Columbia Basin area.
The effort also ties into one of RDO’s company philosophies, which is giving back to communities where team members work and live. Every store is allocated a budget for various community support opportunities and donations and, while Ian says this donation goes, “above and beyond what our stores are typically allotted,” this was a case of seeing a need and feeling a responsibility to respond, “and help our region’s essential workers who are also our customers,” he added.
Jarrod Bailey, Pasco Store Manager, along with Lupe Lopez, Pasco Parts Manager, delivered the masks to FCEM, while Jason Kreps, Sunnyside Store Manager and Regional Sales Manager, and Joel Slaybaugh, Regional Sales Manager, led the effort to deliver the masks to customers.
“They were extremely grateful,” Jarrod said of his experience with FCEM.
Joel’s experience was equally rewarding. One of his largest customers was having a very difficult time finding masks for its 1,500-plus workers. They were so appreciative of RDO’s original donation of 500 masks, Joel has already placed a special order for them, an additional 500 masks.
“It’s a very safety-oriented company and they really value taking care of their employees,” Joel said. “It meant a lot to them they were able to get the masks. I’m looking forward to delivering the next batch!”
Jason’s team members, Account Managers Dustin Heyen and Ryan Johnson delivered to two customers who they say had similar responses to receiving their masks.
“This is one of the reasons we partnered up with RDO on our recent tractor purchase,” Derek Hill, General Manager at Oasis Farms, Inc. in Prosser, WA said. “They are looking out for us and take care of us after the sale. We really appreciate the donation and can’t wait to get these to our team members.”
And, while most customers are known for loving a certain piece of logoed apparel the RDO team often gives out, Daryl Rutherford, Equipment Manager at Olsen Bro’s Ranches Inc., also in Prosser, says the masks carry even greater weight.
“These are a very thoughtful gift and showed that we are in this together. Heck, these are even better than new hats right now.”
Take a closer look to learn more about agriculture in RDO’s Northwest Agriculture industry. Find out more about equipment, parts, and service by contacting your local RDO Equipment Co. store.