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Camper arrives to reduce exposure of virus for workforce

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Kelly Showers, vice president of McCain Industrial, left, Jon Cain, president, middle, and Richard Williams, supervisor check out the company's new 37.5 foot trailer. To reduce the risk of employees contracting COVID-19 from hotels while on the road the trailer was purchased as lodging for up to five employees.

The millwrights at McCain Industrial Services are ready to camp out.

Though they aren’t going to be on a vacation, said Jonathan Cain, co-founder of the plant at 222 Fleming St. in South Williamsport.

“We bought them a camper to go to the worksites,” Cain said of the skilled millwrights who repair broken equipment at life-sustaining industries locally and around the nation.

The camper gives them an ability to remain at the sites without any exposure to COVID-19 that might be at a restaurant or hotel, he said.

Starting Tuesday, they will travel from their plant to a job site in Delaware.

“Nobody really wants to go into a restaurant and can’t in most places, or stay at a hotel and not know the history,” Cain said.

The plan is to leave for a borax manufacturing plant in the company-owned and provided livable camper, which is able to accommodate up to six skilled-laborers, Cain said.

The borax plant had its conveyor belt break down and palletizing equipment needs to be rebuilt.

While there, McCain employees can rest overnight and use a kitchen in the camper, Cain said.

The camper will be attached to a service truck, he said.

Cain described it as going to look like a “traveling circus,” but that the company logo is to be added and that will act as a mobile billboard.

“We decided to buy the camper to take our guys to life-sustaining businesses,” said Kelly Showers, McCain’s vice president.

At these industrial customer locations, the camper will require a hook-up for electricity and water, Showers said.

“We just drive it up to the driveway and park,” he said.

Typically, when the millwrights traveled before, they stayed in hotels, said Rick Williams, superintendent of the crew.

“It’s a game-changer,” said Williams, who’s been with the company for 15 years and has been in his share of less than comfortable hotels.

“We go to where the work is and, whatever it takes, we get it done — we do it,” Williams said.

“We’re like brothers together so the camper works nicely,” he added.

“We’re all avid hunters,” Williams said. “We live off the land.”

The plan is to take food along, as well as plates, and to tailgate and mingle, he said.

The camper is expected to see heavy use over the next months as the pandemic wears on.

Salt mines and fertilizer plants are among the industrial clients that require the millwrights’ skills, Showers said.

McCain Industrial Services does servicing for businesses and industries from Canada south to Florida and west to the Mississippi River, Showers said.

The Fleming Street plant has remained life-sustaining under Gov. Tom Wolf’s list of essential workforces.

It stayed open during the pandemic, when other non-essential businesses were closed.

Before the camper arrived, the workers were helping other life-sustaining companies, such as those selling animal feed when product lines broke down, Showers said.

Before the pandemic, the men drove to Kentucky where robots were setting up as horse feed was produced.

“We can’t thank Kelly and Jon any more for doing this for us,” Williams added. “They don’t want us subjected to COVID-19. … They want us to be safe and to come home to our families, and to keep our jobs and our customers working, too.”

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