This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, April 28, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: As countries are efforting containment and prevention for SARS, companies are efforting to stay out of the red. My next guest has 8,000 workers overseas in China and Hong Kong manufacturing designs for companies like Nautica (NAUT) and Polo Ralph Lauren (RL). So far that SARS has not affected his overall business, but Hal Upbin, the CEO of Kellwood, says he’s got a backup plan if it does. Hal, thanks for coming.
CAVUTO: So there is a fear effect and it affects even the sales of your stuff.
UPBIN: Well, without question. I mean, we are all concerned. The unknown is the thing that bothers us the most. And course, if this becomes a real epidemic over in China, and impacts then workers who would have to be quarantined and stay home, production would falter and then you have a real problem on your hands.
CAVUTO: Has production faltered?
UPBIN: It has not at this point, no. In fact, I’m happy to say at this point we have really no cases of the disease reported in our workforce, literally.
CAVUTO: Yet, it’s interesting, you and I talked about this before the break, that it’s the fear that there could be a connection is enough to rattle your company, and rattle your stock, right?
UPBIN: Well, certainly the company, and hopefully we’ll get past this before it has any significant impact on our stock.
CAVUTO: What do you think is really going on here? I mean, when you hear these reports, and you are very familiar with Asia and what’s going on there, you know, 330 worldwide deaths, or whatever it is, now that is a good number, but in perspective people are saying they are overdoing it. Are they?
UPBIN: No. I don’t think so. I don’t think you can overdo something like this. I think there is a real fear factor and I think there is a real perhaps a real attack could go on in terms of people coming down with this virus.
CAVUTO: Well, have you or any of your people in the United States flown to Asia or are you leery about doing that?
UPBIN: No, we are leery about doing -- in fact, I have a policy put in two weeks ago that I will forbid travel at this point.
CAVUTO: So what’s to stop your customers from saying, his people aren’t even going over there, so there must be something up?
UPBIN: Well, they do believe there is something up, and the fact that they are not going over either, we are dealing with that with video conferencing and teleconferencing, so we haven’t impacted the buy side of the equation. The goods are being produced still, and we are shipping them to the States on time, and no one is being concerned about the product having the virus in it.
CAVUTO: All right.
UPBIN: So that fortunately is the case.
CAVUTO: Hang in there, Hal, OK?
UPBIN: We’ll do that.
CAVUTO: Thank you very much, Hal Upbin, CEO of Kellwood.
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