UCU Pivots Production to Produce Personal Protective Equipment
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that is stalking our Nation, after weeks of feeling beat down by continuous bad news, fears for the health and safety of ourselves and our Nation, fears for our economic well being brought on by an economy that was forced into a screeching halt, I want to pass on something that makes me feel some hope and optimism for us all.
Like many owners of small and medium size businesses we saw the impassioned pleas from health care workers forced to face critical shortages of the very safety equipment they needed to ensure their safety. They have been literally risking their lives because of the shortage of masks, isolation gowns, face shields, and other personal protection gear. We looked at the equipment in our facility and realized that we had the very machines and experience needed to help chip away at the shortages. We scoured our inventory for the raw goods that could be utilized. On Sunday, we borrowed an isolation gown to make patterns from and programmed our CNC cutters to make samples. We started putting the word out, to find out where the need was greatest. (It’s been an intense week, and I’ve been thinking we would do well to put so much effort into marketing our own products during “normal” times.)
We’re not in the medical field. To greatly oversimplify what we do, we build seats for boats and golf carts, and a variety of cushions and sewn parts. We called our regular suppliers, who also are not in the medical field, to find out what materials were available. After contacting some hospitals and nursing homes we were getting a feel for how much material we needed to fill the orders for the face shields and gowns. When we called back our suppliers to order more product today, I was stunned. Suppliers that had 60 days inventory yesterday were getting their warehouses cleaned out by this afternoon.
Then it dawned on me why. Folks, AMERICA HAS RESPONDED. Thousands of small and medium sized manufacturers are doing the same thing as us. And it’s not just businesses. Patterns for facemasks are getting circulated on the internet and individuals are working at home on their own sewing machines to help chip in. I’m not saying that the shortages have been solved, it is still very serious. But just like when we send soldiers to fight for us, it is important for our health care workers to know we do see what they are doing, that we do care, and that we’re at least trying to help.
And this gives me hope. America still has heart. And when we “get to the other side of this” – and we will – I hope we can move on from all the things that we’ve been shouting at each other about that look so petty now and be a Nation again.
– and wash your hands.
Phil M. Vorwerk