RETHINK READY


In this series, WorkingNation tells the human story of the action taken by one worker, one program, or one company to remain competitive, as the needs of a job, an industry, or a community change.

Directed by Matt ODonnell

Produced by Melissa Panzer

ASHBURY MANUFACTURING:

ONE COMPANY PIVOTS TO ADDRESS THE CHALLENGES OF COVID-19

By Alicia Clark

Tim ODonnell is no stranger to change and adaptation. He is president and CEO of Ashby Manufacturing Company in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. The company, founded in 1976 by Manus “Mac” ODonnell, Tim’s father, has supplied machining services and aided in the design of commercial and industrial products for over 40 years. Tim and his brother Kevin inherited the family business after Manus’ death in 2013. As a way to continue his father’s legacy, Tim vowed to add cutting-edge technology to business operations so it could withstand automation and economic uncertainty. In 2017, WorkingNation visited the Ashby Manufacturing Company as part of the Do Something Awesome video series which highlights initiatives that help to train and reskill Americans for high-demand careers. At the time, Ashby had implemented an online distribution platform called Xometry, which connects buyers and sellers in the manufacturing sector. The new technology enabled the company to expand into different regions and offer a streamlined process for buyers to submit and bid for orders.

Fast forward to 2020. As COVID-19 continues to take a toll on the health and financial stability of American workers, businesses across the country are adapting to stay afloat. Thirty-five percent of small businesses report plans to increase investments in the upcoming year, nearly double the number that plan to reduce investments, according to a July 2020 survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Tim’s foresight to adopt new technology has paid off. “This past year, we had our best year ever. We’ve put six new machines in, hired four new people, and brought in a specialist on some new equipment,” he tells WorkingNation. Despite nationwide supply chain disruptions, as well as mandatory shutdowns of non-essential Pennsylvania businesses due to COVID-19, Tim says the company is still busy. He discovered that Ashby is considered an essential business, in part, because of its customer base. The company manufactures and supplies safety products used by firefighters and the U.S. Department of Defense.