By Monica Takacs, Senior Director of Industry Networks, Pittsburgh Technology Council

Industrial Scientific’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, Parker Burke, joined the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s onRAMP onLINE peer group for manufacturers on Thursday. Burke is responsible for Industrial Scientific’s core gas technology and safety equipment.

For more than 30 years, Industrial Scientific has been perfecting the foundation of what keeps people safe in hazardous environments–durable, accurate, and reliable gas detectors. As needs have evolved, so too have their offerings–from the first wireless gas detector, to iNet® Gas Detection as a Service, to connected safety solutions that ensure your teams are safe and productive.

So how has Industrial Scientific been weathering this storm? Parker explained.…

“Fundamentally, our culture has been instrumental in navigating this challenging time. Our team is aligned behind Our Vision to eliminate death on the job by the year 2050, and our role supporting life critical industries is critical to delivering on Our Vision. “

They have been managing the COVID-19 crisis for a while, starting with their operations in China in January. Now, their team in China is working full time again and they are seeing demand increase in the market. They are using this as a bellwether for what may happen in the United States.

Key Principles

As Industrial Scientific navigates through the pandemic, they have been guided by some key principles:

  1. People First

They are focusing on taking care of their team by overinvesting in health and safety, and following the most conservative CDC guidelines. They have maintained transparency with their team at all levels of the organization on business results and expected impact, and the team continues to be a part of the decision-making process.  Finally, empathetic leadership at all levels has been critical to our success.  The pandemic has been hard for everyone, from the parent who is doing double-duty as a teacher to the single person living alone.

  1. Business Continuity

To understand the risks on their critical business operations and move forward in a positive way, they did a thorough business impact analysis, implemented ways to manage cash flow, and are creatively working with customers to help with the continuity of their businesses.

The New Normal

In planning for and executing this new environment, thinking about navigating a “covid-19 winter, not a covid-19 blizzard” has been a critical mindset in ensuring the team has the right posture to both react and plan accordingly for the long run.

For the teams that are on site, they have added safety measures. These measures exceed the government recommended health and safety guidelines and aim to lessen contact among workers. Their cleaning staff is part of the Industrial Scientific team, not an outside cleaning company, and they have ramped up efforts, and done a fantastic job of keep their employees safe.

Communication is Key

Frequent communication at all levels within Industrial Scientific has been a critical to successfully working through this new normal.   It’s been productive to host meetings among cross-functional teams and meet on a regular basis.

At the corporate level, the team has implemented some new business cadences and working groups.

  • Crisis Response Team: Led by David DiLeo, their Chief Information Officer, this team is made up of people from around the world to review health and safety guidelines based on where the site is located (how many cases in the region) and to make sure they are meeting or exceeding the guidelines in these areas.
  • Communications team: This cross-functional team ensures that the company is communicating on the right cadence and with the right content to employees, including a twice weekly Frequently Asked Questions update from Kellie Hart, Vice President of Human Resource Business Partners, and a routine cadence of emails and videos from Parker and Justin McElhattan (President, Industrial Scientific)
  • Business Continuity: They have a daily business continuity meeting led by Matt Alameda, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis, to review daily KPI’s from all functions of the business. This meeting includes all functional leaders and ensures they are making the right level of progress in a challenging working environment.
  • Weekly Leader Team Meeting: They also have Weekly Leader Team Meetings with 80+ managers from around the world that meet and go over how they are doing and share resources to engage their employees.

Most importantly, have been the countless team meetings across the business to keep teams informed and to ensure progress is continuing at all levels. These include formal business reviews and informal coffee breaks, lunches, and happy hours that have occurred virtually around the world to keep the team connected and engaged in the life critical work we are doing.

Return to Work

As Pennsylvania has published their 3-phase system to reopen Pennsylvania, Industrial Scientific will remain conservative and put employee safety first.

Their guiding principle is:

  • Can we return to work? Including can we keep a larger population safe while working in the office together?
  • Should we do it?

In the meantime…

“In an odd way, I am thankful of what we have learned during this time.  It is amazing to see how our Industrial Scientific leaders have built an environment where their teams have gotten to know each other in a new way, including getting to know team members’ children, pets, etc. Further, despite the challenging situation, I can say that I have never spent this much time with my family, and for that I am truly grateful”, said Parker.

Future Calls

Leaders from our region’s manufacturing, robotics, and related firms are invited to join us for the onRAMP onLINE peer group, Thursdays at 8:30 AM. Want an invitation? Contact Monica Takacs at mtakacs (at) Next week’s conversation will be a discussion in best practices in safety featuring EHS leaders.