Of all the issues startups typically face, this is not one we would have predicted.
Rivian's plant in Normal, Illinois, had experienced a bedbug incident, forcing the company to call in pest control. The automaker has had its ups and downs in recent months, and just as we thought the fledgling EV manufacturer was on the right path, another issue has reared its ugly head. This comes after the same factory faced significant worker backlash for safety violations just last month. The latest incident couldn't come at a worse time: Rivian is struggling to meet the sensational demand for its R1T pickup and R1S SUV.
Fortunately, the issue does not appear to be widespread. Rivian told The Pantagraph that the infestation is in an isolated area of the plant, but the company will still feel the bite of slower productivity rates while the issue gets sorted.
The bed bugs seem to have overrun a forklift in an isolated area of the plant, but Rivian has already sprung to action. "These impacted teams have been notified," Zach Dietmeier, the senior manager of plant communications, told The Pantagraph. "We investigate every report and take appropriate actions per our pest control contractor."
According to Dietmeier, Rivian has quarantined and treated the affected forklifts and is taking preventative measures to ensure that this type of issue doesn't return to the plant. Rivian has taken further steps to sanitize its tuggers and transportation shuttles and aims to fumigate all of its warehouse spaces by the end of the month.
One Reddit user had claimed that Rivian knew about the bed bug issue for a full week before any action was taken. "Just thought anyone that works there should be told since they're trying to keep it hush and just throw garbage bags over [the forklift seats] for people to sit on," they said. An employee who wished to remain anonymous told The Pantagraph that the bed bugs could quickly spread to personal residences: "Nobody really wants to bring bed bugs home. Like, I don't know what would happen if somebody did actually bring bed bugs home with them. I doubt Rivian would pay for fumigation of personal property."
This comes as the company gets ready to build an all-new plant in Georgia, which will hopefully be bug-free, technically and otherwise. Otherwise, we doubt anyone at the company will sleep tight.