receptionist with desk

Working in Wuhan

The first Koch company to deal with the pandemic directly was Molex. It has the most employees of any Koch business, including 14,000 in China, 160 of whom work in Wuhan, where COVID-19 originated.

“In mid-November 2019 we started making plans to be in Wuhan for our business review and Lunar New Year celebration in late January,” said Doug Busch, the business unit leader for the optical solutions group. “But during the first week in January — even before the government or global news media started reporting anything specific — our team had become very concerned with what was happening there. “Thanks to good knowledge systems and a lot of sharing, we postponed our visit and quickly shifted our efforts into developing a plan for dealing with this unexpected challenge. About the only thing we knew for sure was that we had to move quickly and figure out ways to be agile in case working remotely became necessary.”

According to Busch, the Molex team had two goals: “The first was to safeguard the health and safety of our employees. As soon as we realized what was happening, the decision was made for employees not to return to the office. This was done even before the local government ordered a lockdown. Our second priority was to figure out how to continue serving the needs of our customers if we had to work remotely.” Given the challenging and detailed nature of the work, which involves complex engineering and systems development, “this was about much more than just sending someone home with a laptop.”

Joe Nelligan, CEO for Molex, addresses Molex employees in May 2020 about the COVID-19 pandemic, employee safety and the business' essential role in fighting the pandemic.

In reviewing those efforts a year later, Joe Nelligan, CEO for Molex, had high praise for how employees responded to the challenge of COVID-19. “Our Wuhan team was absolutely the ‘tip of the spear’ for Molex with regards to figuring out how to innovate and stay operational in a remote context. They really helped set the pace for how we shaped our overall response in Wuhan, then Zhuhai and the rest of China. This is a great example of our global teamwork and I’m proud of the way the entire Molex team communicated so well early on. That shared knowledge made a huge difference.”