This content is provided free of charge by The Newton Kansan. For more local journalism, subscribe to

One day after Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive stay-at-home order, Excel Industries of Hesston, which manufactures lawn mowers and utility vehicles, announced a furlough of employees.

That furlough, according to an email sent to employees on Sunday, is for a minimum of one week. It could be extended until April 20, one day past Kelly’s executive order.

“We are taking this action to support the health and well-being of you, our employees, and residents of the state of Kansas,” wrote Joe Wright. “We feel it best to take this action now as the rest of the state reacts to the Governor’s order.”

Wright wrote that employees will be notified weekly of work requirements.

The email stated the company will be reviewing protection needs and evaluating the company’s essential business designation.

The email stated the company may recall workers before April 19.


AGCO, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and infrastructure with a facility in Hesston, provided employees with a letter stating they were essential employees.

There have, however, been disruptions to the company.

“At AGCO, we are focused on the safety of our employees, our dealers and the world’s farmers while doing our part to minimize the impact of this pandemic,” stated Martin Richenhagen, AGCO’s chairman, president and CEO. “AGCO’s equipment is key to sustainable food production across all phases of the crop cycle and extends to animal protein production. Demand for grain and protein will continue during this crisis, and AGCO will continue to prioritize support of our dealers and farmers to help promote food security.”

According to a news release by the company, production has been significantly reduced or suspended in several of the company’s European facilities, largely because of material shortages and constraints in the European supply chain. Additional production disruptions in other regions are expected over time.

Full Vision

“We will be fluid with our decision making. We do have essential letters from our suppliers,“ said Doug Scheible, president of Full Vision.

The company currently employs about 75 people.

The company serves two essential functions — manufacture of medical devices and manufacture of agricultural equipment.

The facility has closed to most visitors, except those deemed critical. Those are screened for COVID-19 when they arrive.

“We have been way ahead of this the last four to six weeks,” Scheible said. “There are protocols to put in place to protect your team. We have been doing those.”

Scheible said the safety of the team is the most important consideration, and that thus far, there has been little to no effect on the company besides new safety measures in the facility.

“We have been fortunate so far, we have not had any impact on our team. Our decision making is based on that, if we are under a direct threat,” Scheible said.

“We supply to the medical device industry. ... We are deemed as an essential supplier. Also, agricultural is an essential business. We have key customers under both of those umbrellas.”

Fortune (Mid Continet Cabnetry)

Employees of the Newton Mid Continent Cabinetry were supplied with an essential employee letter, and reported to work Monday at the facility located at 900 S. Meridian Road.

“The government considers MasterBrand Cabinets an essential contributor in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic because of the role we play in providing safe environments within the home and because we’re a supplier to the critical construction industry,” said Emily Baker, senior account manager for Fortune Brands Home and Security. “For that reason, our Newton facility remains open and has been implementing enhanced safety protocols for some time to prevent the spread of viral infections, including deep cleaning and disinfecting workspaces, and work-from-home options for employees who are able.”

There are no cases reported in the Newton facility. As of Monday, there was one case in Harvey County.

“We will continue to monitor this ever-evolving situation and follow the stringent safety measures we’ve put in place to combat the disease and provide a safe working environment for all of our employees to protect them and the communities in which they live,” Baker said.