For many locally owned businesses, COVID-19 was a challenge that was impossible to overcome, but Olive Branch based engineering firm, Ferguson Engineering became stronger through the pandemic.
Ferguson Engineering specializes in repair work for various services including hydrostatic pump repair, hydraulic motor and pump repair, oil sampling and testing and several other avenues of engineering expertise.
President of Ferguson Engineering, Jacob Ferguson contractors were among hardest hit individuals during the pandemic.
“Contractors in general were crucial to the pandemic when it was at its peak,” Ferguson said. “Supplies and equipment were at their absolute shortest. If it wasn’t for companies like ours that were able to make things overnight, there were a lot of things that weren’t going to get produced, shipped or delivered on time.”
During the pandemic, Jacob said working hours picked up drastically, and several local plants needed help operating.
“We all worked crazy hours for about two years straight,” Ferguson said. “When COVID first hit, everybody panicked and stopped working. Everybody was kind of confused with how to deal with it in the beginning, and all of the sudden, the plants emptied with employees and maintenance personnel. They were desperately calling and asking for us to send them two or three guys.”
Throughout the two year pandemic, Ferguson Engineering was providing both parts and labor to customers in need.
“We were supporting with making parts and manufacturing supplementary maintenance for plant personnel, and even some of their crucial labor positions weren’t filled,” Ferguson said.
James Ferguson, Jacob’s father and Vice President of Ferguson Engineering said that the challenges presented during COVID-19 were made more easily manageable by a strong health and safety protocol.
“These plant managers were in absolute panic mode,” James Ferguson said. “Luckily for us, our Head of HR is a registered nurse, so she immediately went to work to implement a plan to take temperatures and do screening every day. She was physically showing up on site every day, so we were able to show the testing and everything she had documented. Once we instituted the medical side of it, we were golden.”
Jacob said their protocol structure was able to serve as an example for other companies.
“When we were going to these plants, and we were saying ‘Ok, here’s our COVID policy,’ we were working with most of our customers to help their HR and safety directors get the policies put in place,” Ferguson said. “It caught everyone off guard and corporate America didn’t have time to put plans in place.”
The work environment during COVID-19 presented obstacles as far as learning how to transition into new policies. Jacob said Ferguson Engineering immediately tried their hardest to adjust.
“It was a steep learning curve for a lot of the big companies that you would have this kind of stuff together,” Ferguson said. “They couldn’t predict this was coming, and neither could we. We basically jumped in with a bucket and started dumping water out of the boat because someone had to act.”
James said the success of the business during the pandemic was aided by employees and the work environment.
“We’re a family business,” James said. “And, all of our employees stepped up and were amazing through all of it.”
Even now, Jacob said he and James are both ready to jump into action to help their customers no matter where they are or what time it is.
“He and I take turns on being on call,” Ferguson said. “At least two or three times a week, we get out of the bed in the middle of the night to go get a part that someone needs made.”
Olive Branch Mayor Ken Adams visited Ferguson Engineering for a tour and to hear about the progress the company has made throughout the last few years.
“Olive Branch values our local companies so much, and it’s always nice to be able to witness how hard our citizens are working,” Adams said. “I’m glad they’re here and I appreciate what they do.”
Jacob said he enjoys the fast paced environment of Olive Branch and his business because of this background in firefighting and EMS.
“I grew up in this city,” Ferguson said. “I was able to get this sense of synergy and fast paced environment that I would not have had if I hadn't grown up here. Early in my life, I was a volunteer firefighter and I worked in the EMS industry, which I loved. I liked to get the call of ‘there’s something going on, someone needs help, send someone now.’ I naturally have that same emotion here with this company. When a customer calls me and says they’re going to have to send their employees home because a piece of equipment is broken, I get that same feeling.”