Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, communities and organizations have graciously stepped up to help one another, whether it be through funding assistance, donations, or in the case of manufacturing companies, shifting their production to help those who need it most. Withum applauds all of the heroic manufacturers and distributors who have utilized their factories and resources to help the healthcare community with the creation of medical supplies, such as masks, garments, face shields, and many more due to the shortages they are facing during this pandemic. We’ve also seen manufacturers shift their own operations to ensure their supply chains are not disrupted, their employees remain healthy and customers remain happy. Their efforts are truly admirable and do not go unnoticed.
Hero Highlight: Fibrotex USA
Located in Stearns, Kentucky, Fibrotex USAoffers an innovative suite of products to provide camouflage protection for the men and women of our armed forces. Their offerings consist of camouflage netting and clothing, stealth solutions that offer electro-optical and electro-magnetic protection and combat uniforms and equipment containing specialized fabrics and technology. In their first full year of operation, senior management led by Adi Blum and Eyal Malleron, dealt with the disruption caused by the pandemic and kept the plant operational with perseverance and know-how. By aligning the military’s orders with their key suppliers and managing production in a safe, staggered environment for their dedicated employees, Fibrotex didn’t miss a beat and provided a steady supply of materials to keep our armed forces equipped with the best protection possible.
We are grateful for their efforts during the crisis and they certainly earned the obvious, well-deserved title of being an ESSENTIAL business.
Dart World, Inc.
Based in Lynn, Massachusetts, Dart World, Inc.is a domestic and international wholesaler of darts, dartboards, accessories, custom logo poker chips and other novelty items. As a result of the coronavirus, the City of Lynn received a small business grant, some of which was allocated to Dart World. Mark Amirault, President, decided to utilize his resources to do some good with the funds, and began the process of producing special poker chips in support of the first responders and front-line heroes. Thankfully, the company has been able to stay open with limited staff, so they had a workforce available to run their normal chain of operations as well as this additional commitment. Dart World has donated 1,200 of these customized poker chips to the Lynn fire and police departments, whom are very appreciative of the gesture, with plans to continue and expand the effort to local hospitals.
Such a creative way to give back to those who put their lives on the line every day for the community. Thank you, Dart World!
Located in Newark, New Jersey, Unionwearis the leading manufacturer of “Union Made in USA” hats, bags and binders for promotional, fashion and uniform markets. Once the pandemic hit, their normal production came to a halt – in order to maintain their business and sustain employment, they opted to shift production and their offerings entirely, while also making a difference in the community. Mitch Cahn, President of Unionwear, determined that the company could pivot and utilize their resources to manufacture much needed Personal Protective Equipment, such as face masks and gowns. As Mitch already had existing relationships with suppliers for the materials used in face masks (such as foam, elastic and clear vinyl), the shift was a relatively seamless effort. Once prototypes were approved, Unionwear banged out production immediately. The Company then designed and drafted light weight, reusable surgical gowns with a waterproof-lining, that could be worn up to 50 times and solved a lot of supply problems in the medical community. Now, Unionwear is producing 10,000 to 15,000 face shields and 1,200 gowns each day.
Despite these strides, Unionwear was challenged with the ongoing need to protect its team with workplace distancing requirements as the employees’ health and safety remains of the utmost importance. To combat this, Unionwear organized a tailored, smaller workforce in the factory space, with certain employees working at home and utilizing their own sewing machines to produce the PPE. They continue to manufacture this equipment for healthcare facilities, government agencies, corporations, and consumers.
Mitch said it best, “We’re in a position to make a tremendous difference in people’s lives, and we don’t want to waste that opportunity. That would be a tough thing to live with if we could have done something but instead decided to stay home.”
We salute Unionwear and all of its stakeholders – what a testimony to innovation and adaptability!
Nelson Plastics, based in Longwood, Florida specializes in manufacturing acrylic picture frames for theme parks, cruises, tourist attractions, and other sectors within the tourism industry. With the demand for their product unfortunately dissipating quickly due to the crisis, they were eager to shift 100% of their production to PPE items to allocate to local hospitals. In order to fulfill this need, Nelson Plastics had to rework their supply chain. It took a couple of weeks for their employees to rebuild tooling for face shields and redesign the product flow. They had to outsource all new materials, which was a trying task at first, but they were able to utilize their strong relationships with current vendors and created connections with new vendors in order to fill in the gaps for the necessary materials. The hospitals were thrilled with the quality of the masks, requesting thousands. They will continue to manufacture large quantities of these masks for distribution, thus allowing Nelson Plastics to keep all full-time employees working.
What a great example of complete supply chain modification to help combat the virus.
D’Addario & Co.
Based in Farmingdale, New York, D’Addario & Co. manufactures and sells all types of music accessories including guitar strings (from electric to orchestral), drum heads under the Evans brand, reeds and mouthpieces under D’Addario Woodwinds, Promark drum sticks and D’Addario Accessories which consists of hundreds of products including tuners, guitar straps and string winders. Their normal chain of operations had to shut down due to the pandemic, but that didn’t stop them from devising a way to help their community as well as their fellow New Yorkers during this crisis. The employees and engineers of D’Addario quickly devised a way to transform the mylar material used to create their Evans G2 drumheads into face shields for healthcare workers and anyone on the front lines of the pandemic, like fire and police departments. In order to develop these shields, they outsourced some materials from third-party vendors, such as foam for the top portion of the product. They will continue to source different materials to improve the product and make the process as efficient as possible. They are about to meet their goal of producing 100,000 shields per week, which are now being shipped to hospitals, not just in New York, but across the country. Once a sense of normalcy is reestablished, D’Addario has every intention to continue producing face shields as long as there is a need in the world. What an admirable way to do their part in this global crisis!
Urban Electric Power, Inc.
Based in Pearl River, NY, Urban Electric Power, Inc. (“UEP”) typically develops and manufactures high-capacity, rechargeable and reasonably priced batteries. Made from earth-abundant and safe materials, zinc and manganese dioxide, these batteries can be stacked to power homes and businesses for several days during power outages and recharged hundreds of times. These batteries can be recharged from a variety of sources, including solar panels and wind turbines, and can be easily incorporated in micro-grids powered by renewable resources. UEP’s vision is to provide affordable power to everyone, enabling a future where fuel is replenished on a human timescale.
To help meet the urgent demand for medical and sanitizing supplies, UEP has shifted production to make hand sanitizers and battery power packs for ventilators. While some raw materials needed to be outsourced, UEP was able to utilize its existing equipment and process know-how to move quickly to make hand sanitizer. With the national focus on ventilators, the components of battery backup systems are consistent with UEP’s existing product line, so the conversion required little in the way of process augmentation. UEP’s chain of operations have changed slightly as new suppliers and customers have been engaged, and different process methods have been implemented. However, UEP was able to utilize much of their existing systems to quickly make this pivot and deliver these essential supplies to those in need.
Our thanks to the UEP Team – a perfect testimony to their collective innovation in addressing challenges and providing solutions.
Prattville Machine & Tool Company, Inc.
Prattville Machine & Tool Companyis based in Peabody, MA, and typically manufactures components for the defense, medical and semiconductor sectors. They have greatly stepped up during the crisis in working with a group from Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital to develop alternatives to the N95 mask. Prattville Machine has implemented some out of the box concepts and is utilizing their 3D printing capacity to produce components that allow standard anesthesia masks to be used in place of N95 respirators.
In order to complete these components, they have stocked up on large amounts of a particular resin and other materials, normally not part of their typical inventory. Their efforts have impacted the normal operations slightly as their printer is operating 2 shifts per day to maximize the production of the respirator components. They’ve been able to generate 100 to 150 of these components daily that make up the masks being donated to hospitals in the area. A giant THANK YOU to the Management Team for their support of our communities and the greater good.
A manufacturer of systems that help space optimization and order picking solutions, Unex Manufacturing, based in Lakewood, New Jersey, was founded in 1964 and is a manufacturer of conveyor and racking components that provide the warehouse and logistics sectors of the supply chain with essential equipment. Unex has seen a spike in demand for its products from grocery stores, liquor wholesalers, ecommerce fulfillment companies and automotive manufacturers converting their lines to make ventilators. They’ve addressed the challenge of protecting their team and maintaining plant operations by shifting production while adhering to social distancing requirements. A solution that Unex developed was to continue running the plant with two shifts, re-engineering processes and extending hours. Prior to the social distancing requirements, the shifts all had varying numbers of employees on the floor, but now all shifts now have been leveled to maintain social distancing in the plant and Unex’s high-quality products and lines continue to roll out. Kudos to the dedicated and committed Unex team!
Located in Garfield, New Jersey, Brimar Industries and its affiliate, Signs of Security typically manufacture and distribute safety signs and pipe markers for its customers. The wife of Brimar’s Chief Operating Officer came up with the idea to utilize their facility and supplies to help alleviate the PPE shortages that impacted the area’s medical community; specifically by shifting production to make safe, facial shields. Brimar’s facility had 10 million optically clear, hard Lexan plastics in stock, and reached out to a vendor for the foam and elastic materials to use in the shield. They were able to utilize this existing stock, and leverage their relationships with suppliers to produce over 200 face shields a day for the frontline workers. With this effort, they have produced and donated thousands of masks to four different health centers and first responders, specifically Holy Name Hospital, Valley Health, Garfield PD and Kessler Institute. They have supplies for plenty more and their commitment to the community is fantastic – we salute your efforts. An example of American compassion and ingenuity at its best!
Wakefern Food Corporation
Wakefern Food Corporation, headquartered in Keasbey, New Jersey, is the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States supplies a plethora of retail supermarkets under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, and Gourmet Garage brands.
Amid all the humanity concerns arising from the pandemic, Wakefern and their retail grocery store teammates have done a phenomenal job in stocking the shelves, while ensuring that their employees and customers are safe and sound. With all of the commitment to excellence and attention to detail, they were adopting a whole new slate of governmental guidelines and practices.
Needless to say, they have done so much to keep us together as they offer provisions to so many people who are dependent on them during these trying times. If you’ve been in any of their stores and witnessed them in action, they haven’t missed a beat in their day to day operations.
What a Community Partner too:
They and their retail partners have implemented major hiring initiatives to satisfy to increase in demand in both retail stores and warehouses while increasing compensation and benefits to their workers.
Wakefern announced this month that they will be donating $1 million among 30 regional food banks to meet the increase in demand for food and essentials during this pandemic.
They have also donated some of their grocery store trailers to help move hospital equipment to pop-up facilities and contributed respiratory protective masks to hospitals in New York and New Jersey.
We thank our contact Ken Grogan, Wakefern’s Director of Treasury Services, for his thoughts in providing this testimonial. Ken is so impressed with the pride that all of the 70,000 employees take in their work and their sense of responsibility during this crisis.