As the pandemic hit, this Dublin company found a way to redeploy its staff

IGS Energy Headquarters in Dublin Ohio

By Tristan Navera  – Staff reporter, Columbus Business First

State restrictions that followed the coronavirus pandemic made Dublin-based IGS Energy's typical direct-sales model – including face-to-face interaction with customers – unworkable.

But instead of laying off or furloughing any of its 970 employees, the energy company found ways to retrain them in new roles to keep the $1.5 billion business rolling.

"Our first concern was for our employees and their safety and our customers," CEO Scott White said.

Direct-sales people now have to do more solicitation over the phone, and the company has found other ways to keep them busy, including re-connecting with existing companies and researching new customer strategies and markets.

"We were fortunate to have made some plans and investments on the hardware side, but this just really expedited the implementation of (work from home)," White said. "We will actually be better off for it."

The company employs about 500 people in Central Ohio. It began piloting at-home work plans in late February anticipating pandemic restrictions.

"We actually started a complete ban on sales and were prepared to do a full work-from-home to help our employees feel comfortable and reduce their exposure ... and contact with customers," White said.

"But then you start thinking about the business impact and that you have continuity and you can still function and have your job to do."

Deposits still must be made, records must be kept and business goes on, White said. The company does anticipate a financial impact.

Still, White said the company expects that while its customers in the hospitality industry and other businesses will suffer the most, its utility-focused business will remain in demand long-term.

And the second-generation family business has been conservatively managed, giving it a little breathing room financially, he said.