SALEM TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) - For Salem Township-based Plum Contracting, March 17 proved to be one the most devastating days in the family-owned business' history.
"We came back from a full winter shut down, March 1, full-steam and we had to lay off the majority of our employees that day," said Executive Vice President Ali Mills of Plum Contracting.
COVID-19 restrictions from Harrisburg meant the company had to shut off their earth movers and other equipment on major highway projects everywhere.
"We have 11 currently," said Mills. "We're also a subcontractor all over the east coast. We've had sleepless nights fearing we'd lose it all."
However, things have taken a turn. Harrisburg is reopening many highway projects and the company received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, part of Washington's attempts to keep firms alive during the pandemic.
"It was a godsend. It was a blessing," said Mills.
Ali Mills spoke at the White House this week to endorse PPP. Mills met with both the president and Ivanka Trump.
"I was on a mission not only for my family business but for our employees," Mills told KDKA's Ross Guidotti. "Next week when construction gets back to work, we will be at full capacity."
Part of getting the funding to get back to operations means some things had to be done. For instance, Plum had to make washing stations that will go to every work site, essentially making them COVID-19 compliant.
"We have a 19-page safety program we have to implement into our projects," said Mills.
She said given the nature of the job, that will be a challenge, but not impossible.
Plum Contracting employs between 150 and 200 on a yearly basis, all waiting to get these machines and others like them roaring and rolling.
Ross Guidotti: "Are you excited to get back to work?"
Mills: "I am. Absolutely. I can't wait, it's been a long time coming."
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