COVID-19 Updates

Written by: Empire Leadership

We are all watching closely as the situation with the COVID-19 global pandemic unfolds. Day-by-day changes are affecting our daily lives and, in turn, our businesses.

Our goal is to keep you informed, through effective communications and this webpage, on the continually changing landscape we find ourselves in. If you’re a current customer with an on-going project, please bookmark this page and stay connected with us for important updates in the days, weeks and months to come.

We wish you and your loved ones good health during these uncertain times, and we thank you for your attention and continued support.

 

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Update 3/24/20

Please read below for a critical update regarding Steelcase operations.

The Empire executive management team has been in contact with senior members of Steelcase over the past two days working through details of this current situation and what this means for our clients.

Here’s what we know.

The Governor of Michigan put a “shelter in place” order on the state, and as such, Steelcase Grand Rapids operation is now closed to all non-essential business* as of today, March 24.

(*Read more on what is considered an essential business by the State of Michigan, which is different than New York State, but affects NY clients.)

Current orders:

  • All product scheduled for production in the next 30 days will be placed on hold.

New Orders:

  • Orders placed on Tuesday, March 24 and after will be registered but put on hold until further notice. We do not have access to an estimated production date at this time.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: When production resumes, orders will be prioritized in the sequence in which they were received. So it is important to continue to place orders to ensure projects do not face further delays due to production backup.

Exempt “Essential” Clients:

  • Any client who provides healthcare & other life-sustaining services, as well as any client who is critical in resolving this pandemic crisis, is considered essential and may be exempt. More information to follow on this topic in the days ahead.
  • If you match the criteria outlined above for an essential business, we must receive your exempt letters as soon as possible in order to proceed. Please communicate with your Empire sales rep.
  • Please note, because of the disruption of this COVID-19-related government edict, Steelcase is mandating a 65% deposit from our clients on these “essential” orders to move forward.

 

TO BE CLEAR: THE ONLY ORDERS DEEMED ESSENTIAL ARE THOSE FOR HEALTHCARE-RELATED BUSINESSES.

 

FOR NON-STEELCASE ORDERS:

  • Please refer to our Friday evening update (3/20), in which we stated our warehouses are open and fully functioning. We also continue to be operational from a Sales and Sales support standpoint.
  • To avoid storage charges for projects that have been put on hold, please notify your Empire sales rep as soon as possible if you are able to and prefer to accept partial deliveries for non-Steelcase product that arrives into our warehouse.

STORAGE:

  • Since many client sites will be closed for delivery during this uncertain period, and in an effort to help our clients in any way we can, we are offering our clients the ability to store both furniture and other product (if needed) including construction materials, office supplies, etc.
  • Please reach out to your Empire sales rep or send an email to: storagehelp@empireoffice.com, and we will reach out to you to discuss your storage needs.

SHORT-TERM ALTERNATIVES:

  • As you know, we are the largest Steelcase dealer in the country; however, we also support a long list of 400+ other manufacturers, many of whom are fully operational. We receive daily updates on the operability of our manufacturer partners, and we can help you investigate what options may be available to you in light of this recent news for short-term solutions, including refurbished products.

We remain fully committed to supporting our client-base as well as design partners during this unprecedented time we are facing. Most importantly, we want you to know we are here for you, and we are in this together.

 

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Update 3/20/20

PLEASE READ BELOW FOR AN IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR OUR NEW YORK/TRI-STATE CUSTOMERS AND PARTNERS:

In light of today’s announcement by the Governor of New York enforcing 100% of all nonessential workers to stay home, Empire Office is taking the necessary steps to adhere to the guidelines put in place by our state officials.

Here are some critical updates:

  • Our office located at 105 Madison Avenue in New York will close beginning Sunday evening (3/22) until the restriction is lifted. Earlier this week, we announced all office-based employees were encouraged to work from home. In this transition, over 95% of our workforce has moved to remote working which has been extremely seamless. Our admins, specifiers, account managers, PMs and support staff will continue to support our everyday functions during this time as we normally would, and we are prepared to do so for however long this lasts.
  • As part of the larger construction industry (which was excluded from the Governor’s ordinance today), all of our tri-state warehouses located in New York and New Jersey will remain open and all shipments will be rerouted through our Secaucus location. Our delivery and installation services will also continue in and around the New York area. If your project site is unable to receive product, please advise your Empire sales representative as soon as possible so we may work with you to make proper arrangements.
  • Our delivery and installation crews have been equipped with necessary protective gear and we’ve added necessary protocols. This includes safety glasses, latex gloves, N95 respirator face masks, mandatory hand-washing with antibacterial soap every hour at a minimum, and employee temperature pre-screening using an infrared no-touch thermometer prior to entering the warehouse.
  • MANUFACTURERS: At your earliest convenience, if you currently have a shipment in transit to one of our NY or NJ warehouses, please contact our operations team at: empireredirect@empireoffice.com for direction on any changes that may need to be made. For issues needing an immediate response, contact our SVP of Operations, Frank McEnaney at fmcenaney@empireoffice.com or 917-559-3245.

Right now, communication is more important than ever. We are committed to providing regular updates here and invite you to bookmark this page to stay on top of critical information from our end.

We want to hear from you too, and encourage you to be in touch with your Empire sales rep to discuss updates to your upcoming projects and overall business operability status.

Our hope is that this restriction does not last long, and we can all get back to business as usual as soon as possible. We sincerely hope you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy in these uncertain times. We will be here to support you in any way we can.

Empire Office Leadership Team

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Update 3/18/20

Dear Valued Customers and Partners,

We are continuing to monitor the effects of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and as such, we wanted to inform you of our updated plans for business continuity.

We are happy to report that our deliveries are operating as normal, with regular shipments being received on a daily basis at all of our warehouse locations. Installations are also progressing as scheduled, and our crews in the field are taking extreme precautions to limit any exposure. Client meetings are still taking place, although many are now happening virtually.

Here’s what’s new:

  • Beginning this past Monday and as each specific job role allows, we are encouraging all of our employees to work from home for the time being and those who do choose to go into the office are being asked to adhere to the protocols that the CDC is recommending to help prevent the spread of illness.
  • All of our showrooms were deep cleaned over the weekend, and continue to be cleaned on a daily basis. We ask that any clients looking to tour the showrooms during this time to please call the main office numbers listed on our contact page, as you normally would, to ensure someone is available on-site.
  • We are in daily conversations with our manufacturer partners and have not received notice of any delays in their supply chain and project commitments thus far with one exception: Woodtech, which is based in San Francisco. If you have a current or upcoming project that is affected by this, please contact your Empire sales rep to discuss a possible resolution

Our commitment to the safety of our employees as well as our continued business operations remains our top priorities at this time. We will follow closely any new announcements from Federal and Local governments and will continue to keep you up to date as things progress.

We also invite you to communicate any changes from your end as well. Delays in schedules or operations due to corporate or building requirements as well as other pre-furniture installations and suppliers are important pieces of information for us to be able to plan ahead as well.

We have set up this special page on our website to ensure updated information is always readily accessible. Please bookmark this page and refer back to it often. We will continue to send emails with updates as needed.

Be safe and healthy, and please reach out with any questions or concerns regarding the information contained here. Thank you for your continued support.

Empire Office Leadership Team

 

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Update 3/9/20

As promised, we are continuing to monitor the unique situation with COVID-19. As predicted, the virus continues to spread, and we continuously watch the impact it might have on our employees, our customers, and our industry.

We are currently operating as “business as usual,” but we are watching the situation as it continues to develop. We have put precautions in place to keep our employees healthy, including a thorough cleaning of our offices by professional cleaning crews on a nightly basis and antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizers distributed and available to all employees. We have restricted travel and are strictly enforcing a work from home policy for employees not feeling well.

Our primary supplier, Steelcase, also continues to operate as “business as usual,” and they see no disruption in their supply chain as their North American production is made in North America (US and Mexico). They have very little to no impact related to any Asian supply issues. This fact was verified with Steelcase again this morning.

A quote from the Steelcase announcement:
“Our global supply chain continues to meet customer commitments. Our operations teams across the globe remain focused on the single goal of no customer disruptions. Throughout our three regions, teams are monitoring daily inventory levels and are analyzing multiple tiers within our supply chains in search of any parts or materials that may be at-risk. We have evaluated our 30-day, 60-day and 90-day supply and have already taken actions to reduce risk.“

If circumstances require us to do so, we could leverage our position as Steelcase’s largest dealer to assist our clients.

We are also staying connected with all other top suppliers to ensure they are also operating as “business as usual.” We will advise if we hear of any significant disruptions to the operations of our top vendors.

  • Empire is financially stable with significant liquidity and access to capital that will allow us to withstand any financial challenges that this potential crisis may bring. Our financial stability gives us a competitive advantage in these times of potential turmoil compared to other dealers in the industry.
  • We have made all proper arrangements (IT, communications, leadership, design, accounting, payroll, etc.) to allow us to be fully operational and functional should we be required to initiate a company-wide work from home policy. Many of our staff work from home already, so we are very comfortable in our ability to stay fully functional if the time comes, including virtual meetings to ensure business continuity.
  • Given our size, our in-house delivery and installation crews, and the various locations we occupy (three warehouses in the NYC area and three different locations in FL), we are confident in our ability to stay flexible with our shipments and logistics to best serve our clients.

As this is a developing event with local and global effects, we continue to closely monitor and make the required adjustments to our operating plan. We will continue to update you as the situation further develops. If you have any questions or concerns, we will be happy to address and assist.

We encourage you to stay up to date with the latest updates provided by the CDC here.

Thank you for your continued support and trust in Empire. We look forward to continuing to provide the same level of service our clients are accustomed to, even in these challenging times.

Sincerely,

The Empire Leadership Team

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