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Manufacturing In A Global Pandemic

Author: Dennis Lee

When COVID-19 restrictions hit in Ontario, Canada, we had to adjust. As a manufacturer of physical hydroponic and indoor growing products, production couldn’t simply be moved to work-from-home.

How the production facility changed:

London, Ontario is located some ~200 Km (~125 Miles) away from our head office in Toronto. Pre-pandemic, it was the norm for team members, including co-founders Kevin and Conner, to travel together to the London production facility to assess and assist in the manufacturing process.

However, when sweeping lockdowns were enacted across Ontario, our Toronto team could no longer safely travel to London together. For much of the early lockdown, Kevin Roy (Production Manager at Just Vertical) was the only person in the production facility for the week. He was set the challenging task of managing the manufacturing process in the midst of a global pandemic.

Thanks to his efforts, units were manufactured and products were shipped in a period when other organizations were struggling to keep up.

Kevin discussed the impact of this transition:

“Being the only member based in London, this job had been fairly solitary before the pandemic. It became much more isolating due to the lockdown. This definitely had some impact on my well-being and stress.

Beyond the manufacturing facility, my life had also become isolating because everyone was in lockdown and trying to do their part to flatten the curve. It was a great fortune to be able to continue to work full time, and in fact I mostly enjoyed the solitude of this quiet shop in such a beautiful pastoral place. 

But, as always, you can have too much of a good thing. What had started as peaceful became oppressive. Where the solitude was once relaxing, it became stressful. I realized that despite liking being alone, I craved more social interaction than I had understood myself to need - a growing pain I am sure many of us have discovered over the course of this year.”

Looking forward:

Kevin isn’t the only one who has had to navigate the new set of norms created by COVID-19. The pandemic has drastically changed everyone’s lives. Appreciating your own mental and social needs is critical to success.

As an organization we’ve seen a demand for indoor growing and hydroponic gardens increase. It’s clear that many of us want to be more sustainable in uncertain times. To meet demand, we’ve been able to add more staff to our London facility. We’ve simultaneously implemented policies to reduce and mitigate COVID-19 risks in our manufacturing facilities, putting the wellbeing and safety of our staff first.

Social and physical isolation, however, also comes with risks. As an organization dedicated to green technology, indoor farming, and improving the world, we wanted to use Kevin’s attitude to amplify the importance of mental wellness and working together in these challenging times.


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