COVID-19 Assessment Helps Larson Ensure Best Practices during Pandemic

Like most responsible companies navigating a pandemic, Larson Manufacturing worked hard to secure its Lake Mills manufacturing facility against COVID-19. Among other things, and the company posted signs, upgraded its cleaning procedures, and installed social distancing barriers. But was that enough?

To make certain, Larson last summer became one of Iowa’s first companies to receive a CIRAS virtual COVID-19 Preparedness
Assessment. CIRAS can offer these and other assessments at no cost thanks to funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act through the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

“Even though we felt we were doing pretty well, we thought we’d seek out the opportunity to find out if there were any gaps we needed to fill,” said Brian Throne, Iowa operations manager for the door and
window company. “I think we learned a lot.”

CIRAS experts spent several hours over the course of three weeks evaluating the company on 65 criteria spread across 13 areas.  Company leaders used video conferencing, email, and a secure filesharing tool to discuss COVID-19 policies and procedures and to share photos and videos with the CIRAS team.

The result? CIRAS experts identified several areas where Larson could do things such as increase visual controls at entry points and aid cleaning efforts by removing some nonessential items from work areas.

CIRAS project manager Marc Schneider described the changes as “minor things,” such as upgrading quickly assembled social distancing markers (8.5” by 11” printouts taped to walls) to larger, more permanent signage.

Updated signage at Larson Manufacturing.
Updated signage at Larson Manufacturing.

“Part of our purpose was just to validate that what they were doing made sense, and they weren’t missing anything,” Schneider said. “The biggest thing was helping them transition to the long term.”

Throne said Larson also plans to improve the clarity of some written policies.

“This was a really comprehensive review,” he said. “I think we’ll come away from this with a better plan for any future event.”

For more about COVID-19 assessments, contact Marc Schneider at or 563-221-1596.