Running Together During the Pandemic

Orchard Equipment Employee Working on Harvesting Machines During COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic continues to be a challenging time for our communities. It’s also an extraordinary time as we witness the resilience of the human spirit coming together to support one another.

COE Orchard Equipment keeps food harvest running

Many John Deere engine customers manufacture equipment deemed essential during the pandemic and safely continue to provide for their customers. Among them is COE Orchard Equipment, Inc., of Live Oak, California, which manufactures harvesting machines for olives, peaches, prunes, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and pecans. 

“Farmers count on our machines to help them harvest large acreages of nuts and fruits,” says the company’s human resource director, Carey Powell. “If a crop like pistachios falls to the ground and goes to waste, it not only hurts the local  economy, but it also affects the food supply. No matter what happens in the nation, everybody still has to eat.” 

Essential Ag

Fortunately, COE Orchard Equipment never missed a day of production when many other businesses closed. “Being in the essential ag sector, we are still working and have been from the beginning,” says Powell. “We did a risk assessment to determine if we could follow the state and national guidelines and keep people working safely and still accomplish the goal of getting food off the trees and into people’s homes. We stopped briefly and thought it over: If we were able to keep everybody safe, we were going to continue to push forward with what we do every day.”

“Being safe requires lots of extra steps, yet it’s all doable. It’s just a new process,” Powell continues. “Ultimately our goal is to keep everyone working and to supply our customers with the products they need to get the harvest done.”

CSX moves essential products

CSX railroad plays a critical role in responding to the ever-evolving needs of the population through rail, intermodal, and rail-to-truck transload services. The Class I railroad serves 23 states, the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces and has a broad array of markets including energy, industrial, construction, agricultural, and consumer products.

“CSX and our employees are proud to play a part in providing transportation of critical goods to consumers during this challenging COVID-19 pandemic,” says Ricky Johnson, vice president of engineering. “CSX is also taking the proactive measures that best keep our more than 20,000 employees and operations protected during these unprecedented times.”  

New technologies keep operations running

As manufacturing companies produce essential products, transportation companies also work hard to keep those products moving 24 hours a day during the pandemic.

CSX continues to invest heavily in infrastructure improvements and new technologies to ensure it can move freight safely and efficiently. The company’s Bryan Park facility in Richmond, Virginia, manufactures John Deere-powered maintenance of way (MOW) equipment, including ballast regulators, tie handlers, brush cutters, and anchor applicators.

“From an equipment perspective, our number-one goal is to ensure equipment readiness for general track maintenance and rehabilitation,” says Johnson. “Our goal is to make sure that equipment reliability remains exceptionally high for supporting operations of both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.”

A kind word and a helping hand

As the pandemic spreads around the globe, so do acts of kindness. Through its Pride In Service program, CSX teamed up with Operation Gratitude to deliver jumbo care packages and handwritten letters from grateful Americans to police, firefighters, and hospital workers.

CSX also partnered with The Conservation Fund to provide grants to nonprofit organizations that store and distribute fresh produce, meat, and dairy products to underserved communities.

Ultimately our goal is to keep everyone working and to supply our customers with the products they need to get the harvest done.

Bryan Bentz
Carey Powell, HR director, COE Orchard