Justin Jones never thought he'd have to scour eBay looking for used laptops for his job as IT manager with Granite Ridge Builders. Then came COVID-19.
Jones, an IT specialist with the custom homebuilding company, needed to find a way to get everyone online as quickly as he could when the Indiana stay-at-home order went into effect.
It wasn't easy. As a one-person IT department in a staff of more than 100, Jones' workload increased significantly. He was now tasked with finding a home laptop for every employee who needed one during a time when the internet was flooded with online orders.
“It was definitely somewhat overwhelming to think about,” he said.
Granite Ridge typically has 40 to 50 people in the office every day. Jones needed to find a way to make sure these employees could all stay connected online. He worked with what each employee had, trying to repurpose home laptops and order used goods online when he needed to.
“I didn't quite know what it was going to look like when (the stay-at-home order) first came out,” he said. “But I kind of just got to work, trying to problem solve (for) people one by one.”
Jones couldn't order new tech equipment because he knew he'd never get it in time. Too many big companies with bulk orders came before him, so he had to improvise. He bought what he could and repurposed it enough to make it work.
Ariel Shuler, marketing director for Granite Ridge Builders, said Jones was a huge help in making sure builders could stay connected with clients.
“He's been awesome helping out the company and keeping us moving forward during this difficult time,” she said. “He's really been the glue that holds everything together and helping us communicate effectively, especially with our homeowners during this time.”
Along with finding laptops and repurposing old equipment, Jones arranged Zoom conferences for staff meetings, developed a sanitary way for decorators to send design ideas to a computer screen rather than passing around an iPad for customers to review and continued to help builders share online resources with new homeowners through the app Buildertrend.
Jones said he adjusted quickly to his new routine and was rewarded by knowing he could help people stay connected.
“I do feel a sense of pride,” he said. “To sit here three months later and know that I was able to support the company through probably the biggest crises we've ever seen in younger generations.”
Jones said that these last three months have reaffirmed why IT is an important service.
“It's definitely renewed my commitment and my professionalism, just knowing that this is not something that can be taken lightly. You really have to have it figured out, or it could come back to haunt the entire business.”