Spirit Lake Polaris begins weeklong closure in light of COVID-19 market impact

Monday, March 23, 2020
Polaris Industries recently instructed eight of the company's plants, including Spirit Lake, to take a weeklong break from production due to COVID-19. Plants are expected to restart Thursday, April 2.
File photo

Officials with Polaris Industries have instructed eight of the company's plants, including its Spirit Lake location, to take a weeklong break from production as the spread of coronavirus begins to affect the manufacturer's market. The announcement was made Monday afternoon by Polaris Chairman and CEO Scott Wine. The company said it will weigh supply and demand as the viral outbreak continues. The closure is scheduled to take effect Tuesday, and Polaris plants are expected to restart Thursday, April 2, according to the statement.

"As we confront the COVID-19 pandemic, we are focusing on the health and safety of our employees, dealers, customers and the communities where we operate, while also taking bold action to protect our business," Wine said. "We have been aggressive with employee safety and supply chain mitigations actions, so our plants have operated effectively to meet the strong retail momentum we saw at the start the year, through the second week of March. As anticipated, pandemic concerns ultimately began to impact demand, and we are adjusting our operations accordingly."

The statement said Polaris locations had already increased disinfection procedures, restricted employee travel, screened on-site visitors, allowed employees to work from home when able and practiced social distancing within the plants during production such as staggered breaks and start times. During the first quarter of 2020, Polaris said it reduced shipments in anticipation of weaker retail demand due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The company said all North American pickups and shipments have been deferred as of Monday to factor for the closures.

Aside from Spirit Lake, the company decided to close facilities in Huntsville, Alabama; Monticello and Roseau in Minnesota, Battle Ground, Washington; Osceola, Wisconsin; Monterrey, Mexico; and Opole, Poland. The company also established a new program in which its U.S. employees may receive up to 10 days of pay to cover COVID-19 related difficulties.

"Polaris will continue to ship finished vehicles to dealers, as well as produce products that are considered essential by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency," the statement said, highlighting products used by the military, government and shipping industries. "The company will continue to manufacture and deliver boats to meet retail customer orders, and its distribution centers will continue to operate, shipping parts, garments and accessories to dealers and customers."

The company has also temporarily lifted restrictions on dealers in order to allow home deliveries as requested by customers.

Polaris plans to keep up to date on not only the market, but any new health mandates as it considers its next steps.

Cases of COVID-19 were recently confirmed just across the state border in Jackson County, Minnesota. Other cases were confirmed in Kossuth County and Sioux County. The state's total confirmed cases were tallied at 105 as of Monday.

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