Exclusive: Lenovo’s new normal as it works through pandemic crisisDate Published:
It’s the new normal at Lenovo, the global computer giant with a major operation in the Triangle.
Kirk Skaugen, president of Lenovo’s RTP-based Data Center Group, says he’s confident the Chinese computer maker (which has what it calls a “dual headquarters” in Morrisville) will make it to the other side of the pandemic crisis. And that North Carolina, where the firm also has a manufacturing operation in Whitsett, will help drive its success.
“I think Lenovo is doing pretty well through this,” Skaugen says. “We have no cases in China, which, given we actually have a factory in Wuhan, is pretty amazing.”
The firm has seen a few coronavirus cases in Europe, however, and has responded in recent weeks in many of the same ways its peer companies have – by eliminating travel and following guidance from local officials. In the Triangle, virtually all employees are working from home.
“The good news is, given we’re a technology company, our employees had laptops and could work from home,” Skaugen says.
In Whitsett, manufacturing employees are screened for fevers before going into work. They have to wear masks in the factory (the masks are shipped in from its Chinese facilities), which is open and running, Skaugen says. The company has more than 30 factories around the world pumping out products to meet the demand, he says.
“We’re operating as close to 100 percent capacity as we can while getting supplies we need,” he says, noting that transit routes are causing delays, but “we are getting the goods out.”
Skaugen says Lenovo is luckier than most in that it offers remote education and workforce solutions – exactly what many companies are looking for in this crisis.
“It’s been growing very strongly,” he says of the segment, noting the firm has been prioritizing services for frontline health care workers and school districts. Employers, Skaugen says, are trying to get notebook computers to their employees. And, as it’s been able to get Chinese factories up and operational, Lenovo is in line to supply some of that demand, Skaugen says.
“In terms of how we can help through this crisis, I think our technology is kind of critical,” Skaugen says. “We have always said we want to help solve humanity’s greatest challenges.”
Skaugen just didn’t realize the mission would become so literal, he says.
And, as it tries to respond to COVID-19, its core work continues. Much of Lenovo’s work in global supercomputers is driven by Raleigh. Lenovo’s technology is in 35 percent of the top 500 supercomputers in the world.