Harry & David president talks balancing pandemic and holiday season

MEDFORD, Or.- Every Fall, Medford’s Harry & David hires thousands of seasonal workers. This year, however, it’s doing so amid never before seen roadblocks.

Harry & David is the area’s largest non-medical employer, meaning they have to work to protect thousands of staff from the spread of coronavirus.

NBC5 News spoke with Harry & David’s President Steve Lightman to find out how the company is keeping full-time and seasonal workers safe in their busiest season.

“We go overboard to make sure we have a safe and healthy workplace,” said Steve Lightman. “The company is committed to protecting its employees and we are constantly looking at our facilities to understand how we can further protect and enhance people’s comfort levels coming in,” he said.

But the organization also brings on about 4,000 additional workers each holiday season. Adjusting for that amount of new workers is no easy task in any year, let alone 2020.

Lightman says they’ve intensified sanitizing procedures, brought on social distance enforcers, and installed barriers in factory areas.

“We took it as an organization extremely seriously and really tried to create a safe workplace and work environment for the people that come in, both seasonal associates and full-time associates,” Lightman said.

The company had some small outbreaks of COVID-19 among their full-time staff over the summer. But Lightman says most infected employees are not getting it at work.

“They’re not originating at the Harry & David campus, they are originating at other locations in town, or maybe a spouse has the virus and they get it and bring it in,” he said.

He says the company is doing everything it can to protect its workers and the community. And that extends beyond their walls as many staff members lost their homes in the Almeda Fire.

“We’re really working hard to support and help everyone that has been impacted by COVID, by the fires, by everything else we experienced,” Lightman explained.

Lightman says they still have about 1,000 positions left. He is encouraging locals looking for a job to not hesitate and apply.

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