On March 20, Cigarette Racing Team in Opa-Locka, Fla., proactively closed for two weeks. As a manufacturer, the high-performance luxury center console and sportboat builder wasn’t required to close per Miami-Dade County COVID-19 pandemic mandates, but company owner and chief executive officer Skip Braver simply wasn’t comfortable staying open. Nor were many of his employees, and that wasn’t lost on him or anyone else on Cigarette’s management team.
After two weeks of voluntary shutdown, Cigarette Racing Team is incrementally re-opening. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
“People are our most important asset, and I could see that the people working here were afraid of the coronavirus and being around each other,” he said. “So we went ahead and closed voluntarily. It was the right decision. It was the humane decision.
“But there was another element of that decision,” he continued. “At that time, there really wasn’t any sort of ‘plan’ coming out of the state or federal government. Now that plan including social distancing and all of the Centers for Disease control guidelines is a lot more refined. so we brought back a skeleton crew this Monday and will slowly be staffing up to fill the orders we already have, and new orders that we expect to come. In fact, I just took one for a 41 Nighthawk this morning.”
Per current novel coronavirus guides, all Cigarette employees will be required to maintain strict social distancing guidelines and wear proper required personal protective equipment (PPE). Cigarette also is beefing up its already significant cleaning guidelines for the facility in terms of depth and frequency.
Still, Braver said he realizes that some of his employees may not be comfortable in that environment, even with all strict guidelines and cautionary measures in place. For employees who return and opt to take more time out of the plant, he is offering staggered furloughs, which will enable those employees who choose that option to collect unemployment and later return to work.
What’s more, Braver said Cigarette is in hiring mode.
“We are trying to bring in new people,” he said. “As strict as we’ve always been about keeping Cigarette immaculately clean we’re going even further now—not just because that’s the way we like to do things but we think it provides a safer working environment, especially now.”
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