As business restarts in Ohio, some companies still waiting

By Mackenzi Klemann -

BLUFFTON — Manufacturers, distributors, construction firms and general offices previously classified as non-essential were allowed to resume business on Monday. But the much-anticipated restart date didn’t mean much for automotive suppliers, many of which are still waiting for carmakers to resume production.

Among those companies are Bluffton’s SumiRiko, formerly DTR.

The Japanese automotive parts supplier expected to recall some of its employees last week. But SumiRiko Ohio President Randy Rumbley informed associates on Friday that three of its major customers — Toyota, Honda and Nissan — have pushed back their restart dates.

Toyota notified the company last week that it will resume production on May 11, rather than May 4. And it could be another week before suppliers will need to ship parts, according to a May 1 letter from Rumbley to employees.

Likewise, Rumbley wrote that Honda is expected to resume production on May 11 while Nissan could restart around May 18.

“When production resumes it will be at much lower volumes due to the market conditions,” Rumbley wrote. “We are unclear on what that volume will be at this time.”

In a March 30 letter to associates, Rumbley said he anticipated the Bluffton facility’s sales would fall at least 35% below expectations in March and another 40% in April, which he described as an “unprecedented loss of sales.”

And in a subsequent letter in April, Rumbley wrote that the company expected little, if any, sales that month.

The company did not receive federal assistance at that time, either, according to the letter.

“In the financial crisis of 2009, we saw a drop in sales of about 50%, so we at least had some income and cash we could use to manage our business,” he wrote. “This COVID-19 (situation) is different because we have almost no incoming cash and it is a worldwide problem.”

Companies that did resume business on Monday were required to follow safety guidelines issued by Gov. Mike DeWine last week, which outlined new rules on facial coverings and social distancing in the workplace, as well as shift patterns, sanitation practices and daily symptom assessments.

By Mackenzi Klemann

Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.

Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.

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