MENOMINEE — L.E. Jones Co. reopened Wednesday night at 10 p.m. after it was determined the company qualifies as essential under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order.

According to the State of Michigan, the current businesses considered essential during the COVID-19 shutdown period include health care and health workers, food and agriculture, law enforcement and first responders, utilities, communications, critical manufacturing and defense among others. L.E. Jones’ CEO David Doll said he believed the company qualified as an essential business from the get-go, but needed to comply with the governor’s orders initially to close.

He said businesses were given 14 hours to determine whether they would be considered essential or not based on what was given by the order, and Doll said he needed to have some legal counsel to be sure L.E. Jones could be considered essential by the state’s standards.

“We have surveyed our key customers and determined that several have made the declaration in that they are within the definitions of ‘Essential Businesses’ and/or ‘Critical Infrastructure’ as set forth in the Directive and Exemptions detailed by the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency of the Department of Homeland Security and various state orders,” he wrote in a letter to employees.

Doll said the parts made at L.E. Jones are used for machines that are “on the front lines” in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. “Every hospital, medical clinic and nursing home that is on the front lines dealing with this pandemic here in the U.S., and globally, has a back-up generator to be sure they function even if they lose power,” he said. Doll said that if those generators don’t work when a lot is going on in those facilities, the lights go out, which would mean the ventilators would stop working.

He also said there are new medical locations being built or retrofitted to deal with the virus, all of which will need new generators. “These engines and our parts in them have to work, no questions asked,” he said.

He said over the coming days the company will be promoting what he calls “8 Days/8 Ways,” further explaining to the employees why what they do is essential.

“We are an essential business because our customers have said they are essential, and we have an obligation legally and financially to support them, otherwise they can’t do what they need to do,” he said.

Doll said the decision to reopen comes with a reminder for employees to use their best judgment in whether or not they feel well enough to come in to work. “The health and safety of our employees are the top priority at our company. We won’t sacrifice anyone’s safety to do our part just as no hospital would sacrifice a doctor or nurse as they tried to diagnose and treat patients,” he said.