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LEXINGTON -- Hourly workers at Next Generation Films received a little extra in their paychecks Friday to ease their minds during the COVID-19 stress.

"Right away when this coronavirus got pretty serious because people are concerned and worried," said Kathy Bolhous, chief executive officer of NEX Films and Next Generation Films. "We wanted to settle people down, and we as management are concerned. We wanted to let them know they'll be informed with the latest information.

"We decided we would give all our hourly workforce a $500 bonus. We announced that on Monday."

Bolhouse said the company is also giving gift cards to local grocery stores to help the stores in the community and let their employees know they are thinking of them and the difficulties through which they and their families may be enduring.

Bolhous' company has 11 plants; five in Ohio, four in Wisconsin, one in South Carolina and one in Massachusetts. The Lexington plant, headquartered at 230 Industrial Drive, has about 600 total employees.

In total, NEX and Next Generation Films have 1,500 employees acros the country.

"I was honestly overwhelmed with the positive response that I got," Bolhous said. "It just felt like the right thing to do and employees really appreciated it."

Due to the involvement in the critical supply chain for the country, the plants will not be shutting down, Bolhous said.

"We make the film that is used in food packaging and medical packaging -- drapes, gowns and other important medical components," the CEO said. "The bonuses were just a way to say thank you and we are thinking of you in this difficult time we're all in together."

The plants are using extreme measures in-house to keep the novel virus away from the products and the employees, Bolhous said. 

She said the combative tactics the company is practicing include cleaning and sanitizing, limiting the number of people working, and having non-essential jobs handled remotely.

"Our number one priority is our employees and the safety of them and their families," she said. "We're a family-oriented company and we are all in this together.

"We want the company and all our employees and management to pull together in this time of need. We are on the front lines, keeping the country supplied with critical films."

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