NORTHBRIDGE — Riverdale Mills, a manufacturer of wire mesh products, has been surviving the pandemic amid a 30% drop in its workforce and a global shortage of raw materials, but CEO James Knott Jr. said he isn’t worried.

“The challenge for us is to keep the equipment running and get the product out the door, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job doing that even with the reduced workforce,” Knott said.

“There are many pieces to the business, and almost all areas are getting affected,” Knott said. “A big hurdle is getting people to make product, and we can’t work remotely here at Riverdale Mills.”

Riverdale Mills opened its manufacturing facility in Northbridge 40 years ago, in a 390,000-square-foot facility that first manufactured scythes and then bayonets for the Union Army in the Civil War. The company buys thousands of tons of steel year-round to manufacture welded steel mesh products for the marine, security, construction and farming industries, and exports products globally.

One of the company’s main products is Aquamesh, marine-grade wire mesh designed for New England fishermen and used for 80% of the continent’s lobster traps.

“Riverdale Mills competes with people all over the world,” Knott said. “About 45% of what we make we export. As the dollar gets weaker, it’s easier to export, and the dollar has weakened recently. I suspect it’ll continue to get weaker as inflation hits.”

Knott said he anticipates a bounce-back in the industry in the coming months.

“I’m a believer that as things spike up they’ll spike down at the same rate, so I think hopefully in another three to four months we’ll be out of this,” he said. “I know the plastics plants are back online and doing well, so that supply chain should clean up. The steel industry will too, once they get through some of the mill upgrades that are planned and get people back online. There’s plenty of capacity there.”

Knott said even with the difficulties in the sector, he doesn’t focus on the negatives.

“I don’t worry about anything,” Knott said. “I try to do what’s right for the company and keep the company growing and moving along for the employees and our customer base. In order to do that we’re putting a lot more effort on things daily that we wouldn’t typically have to do, such as chasing product that’s not available or triaging some of these situations that wouldn’t exist if we didn’t have these supply chain situations.”

On top of the material shortage, Section 232 tariffs put in place in 2018 by the Trump Administration have soaked up hundreds of thousands of dollars from Riverdale Mills, the company said, for the past three years.

Jane Lanzillo, the company’s communications director, said despite the increase in taxes, Riverdale Mills adjusted strategically and never passed tariffs costs along to its marine customers.

Lanzillo said they have seen a 60% increase in orders placed and as the demand continues to grow, so does the company’s pressing need to hire more workers.

While Knott said the company didn’t lay off employees last year, Riverdale Mills currently has about 120 workers after losing 30% of its workforce since the pandemic began.

Knott said he credits this to the stimulus checks and unemployment benefits received by Americans in the past year, something many believe factors into a declining workforce in the country.

“At this point in the year, business is robust,” Knott said. He said the future of his company is to do what they have always done: make great products. He sees a need for the company to automate its manufacturing equipment — a task he said he always prioritized — reduce cost, and work a global supply chain.

“We want to continue doing what we’re doing. We’re very good at it,” Knott said. “We’re well-known all over the world for the products we make, and we’re investing heavily in automating the plant and trying to bring on AI in some form. We intend to be here and we intend to continue to automate as we have in the past.”