PRS Guitars reopens Maryland facility with safe-distancing measures in place

The company kept over three hundred workers paid amid eight-week lockdown.

Last week, PRS Guitars resumed some manufacturing operations at its facility in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland – following the state’s decision to reopen non-essential businesses.

This came after a financially tough eight-week lockdown – in which PRS reportedly took on debt in the millions of dollars to keep workers paid and to resume production after the lockdown.

Around 90 employees returned to work on 18 May, adhering to new safe-distancing measures in place: regular temperature checks to enter the facility were implemented, workstations were spaced six feet apart, one-way “traffic lanes” were drawn on the factory floor and a “55-gallon drum of hand sanitiser was kept on hand”.

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Additionally, each time a hand-sanded and finished guitar changed hands – keeping in mind that each instrument receives about 20 hours of hand labour – it was sanitised.

Founder Paul Reed Smith told Reuters that the company had taken on millions in debt – keeping 374 employees on the payroll after finding out that some would “only get 25, 50 cents on the dollar with unemployment [benefits]”.

“We wanted to keep our promise to the employees that we’d given them a job,” he said. “And so, during this period we paid them while they were off. We bet on our employees and we bet on the government reopening in enough time that we could survive.”

On the fortunate timing of Maryland’s state decision (13 May) to reopen non-essential businesses, company president Jamie Mann reported:

“We are tearing through money right now. We’ve incurred [a] significant amount of debt, just about as much debt as we can right now to get through this. So the timing is good for us and our folks are looking forward to getting back.”

Earlier this year, PRS announced the cancellation of the Experience PRS 2020 event, which was to be part of the brand’s 35th anniversary celebrations.

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See images of PRS’ newly reopened factory, here.

For more industry news, click here.

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