Virtual Interview on COVID-19: Mike Formby, Executive Director, Pacific Resource Partnership
How are you coping amid COVID-19 crisis?
First and foremost, the safety and good health of our construction contractors, their construction workers and the Hawai‘i community as a whole is most important during the COVID-19 crisis.
Subject to specific county limitations, construction has largely been designated an essential operation or activity permitted to work during the COVID-19 crisis. At PRP, we are working with our construction industry partners, including the General Contractors Association (GCA), the Building Industry Association (BIA), and the Land Use Research Foundation (LURF), to assist the construction industry in implementing best policies and practices to prevent the introduction and spread of coronavirus. PRP also keeps our member contractors updated on current requirements established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and, along that line, we provide information regarding upcoming educational webinars for those working during the COVID-19 crisis.
Finally, we make sure our member contractors are aware of job and project opportunities that contribute to Hawaii’s economy and, in the long term, will contribute to Hawai‘i’s economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. Working with federal, state, and county administrations, departments and agencies in a fast-paced virtual environment, we aggregate and disseminate data and information that keeps our members abreast of what’s happening from upcoming procurements to government resources and programs available for businesses and their employees.
Did your business continuity plan work or were there surprises?
I don’t know any industry with a continuity plan that was truly prepared for the extraordinary impacts of COVID-19. The construction industry in Hawai‘i, however, moved quickly to adapt and incorporate best practices and policies that would allow authorized work to continue while protecting our workforce and Hawai‘i. The work environment is still changing by the day and we continue to learn and adapt.
Have you found silver linings in these difficult times?
We are a labor-management organization and the COVID-19 crisis has brought home the need to strengthen and fortify our communication channels with both our member contractors and their employees (our member carpenters). If anything, we will come out of this stronger, more resilient, better able to function day-to-day and better prepared for future crises.
How are you maintaining your company culture?
PRP operates as a team and the team approach has worked well despite the physical distance between our employee work spaces. Ironically, I have found our teleconference staff meetings to be hugely efficient and productive and we’ve managed to come together and collaborate on creative ways to get things done. This includes working within our organization and reaching out to industry partners and other construction-related businesses.
Do you have advice for other local companies?
Not really advice, just a recognition that we are all in the same boat learning how to adapt in a constantly changing environment. Being flexible, open to new ideas and willing to challenge old assumptions that might have worked in the past is key to progress in this crisis environment.