Steps Cohen Architectural Woodworking Is Taking to Handle The COVID-19 Crisis


Cohen Architectural Woodworking in St. James, MO, has taken several steps to successfully work through the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 virus, including maintaining all employees without furloughs, and keeping all team members safe.

Cohen is a design/build woodworking firm that supplies custom cabinetry and millwork nationwide. The company employs 88 people. They have taken positive action steps during the crisis as a guide for others to follow. These include…

Addressing the situation early on. Cohen began addressing the threat early in March by assigning three key team members to do research and meet daily, and work with an HR attorney.

  • Quickly adopting a remote working strategy. Cohen sent twenty three office staffers home to work remotely. Only six essential employees operate from Cohen headquarters. All participate in daily and weekly meetings via Zoom and other virtual applications.
  • Splitting working shifts for safety purposes. Fifty-nine plant workers, who were working Monday through Thursday from 6am to 4:30pm, were separated into two shifts. Thirty-four, assigned to Team One, work from 5am until 1:30pm. The other twenty-five work from 2:30pm until 11pm.
  • Checking temperatures before entering. Plant workers continue to be tested for fever and high temperatures, and use hand sanitizers prior to entering the facility. Workers are spread out, easily maintaining social distancing in the 54,000 square foot facility.
  • Assigning special projects to keep workers sharp and motivated. In order to maintain fluidity and a professional edge during the downturn, management has assigned the plant team with several tasks. In addition to maintaining production for client orders these include an office remodel and rearranging the plant to make it more efficient.
  • Collaborating with area businesses. Cohen continues to modify its approach as needed. It participates with other business owners in the Saint James area, mostly in manufacturing and transportation, to share best practices.
  • Limiting physical interaction. The company maintains safety standards on the exterior of the facility with drop off of products and supplies by delivery services with little or no human interaction. Cash flow is preserved by limiting the number of projects and fees of outside vendors.

“We will make it through this because we are anchored in our core values. We are a little village helping each other. The strength of our company is with our people,” said Phillip Cohen, Founder and CEO.

To date there have been no layoffs at Cohen and no one has knowledgeably contracted the virus. The firm is actually looking to add to its workforce depending on the qualifications of job applicants.

“We have a healthy and established culture with an emphasis on caring for all team members, keeping them strong and focused. We will come out better on the other side when this is over,” Cohen said.

Founded in 1982, Cohen Architectural Woodworking is a family-owned architectural design/build woodworking firm headquartered in St. James, Missouri. For more information visit

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