Manufacturers Respond Above and Beyond to PPE Call to Action
“CAN DO” Attitude, Collective Efforts and Networking Created Opportunity to Innovate and Provide PPE
Metro Atlanta, GA, May 11, 2020 – In late March 2020, Northside Gwinnett Hospital put out a request for local companies and individuals to sew masks for their healthcare staff and hospital teams. They said they would provide a pattern and medical grade material, but needed sewers to pick up the fabric, sew the masks to their specifications, and drop them off at designated places. The masks needed are worn over the N95 masks and the patented material helps repel droplets as an added layer of protection.
Lisa Winton, co-owner and CEO of Winton Machine Company located in Suwanee, Georgia and Chris Fann, VP of Operations at Truck Hero located in Lawrenceville, Georgia received Northside Gwinnett Hospital’s call to action from Partnership Gwinnett.
After some networking, Fann and Winton quickly exchanged emails concerning the need for mask sewers. Part of Truck Hero’s capabilities includes the sewing of automotive carpet edging and their trained team of sewers had capacity to help. Fann’s immediate response to Winton was “We can do it. Please let me know how we can get the material and we will start immediately. Thanks.”
Fann re-directed human resources and made a capital investment to acquire sewing machines suitable for making the masks per the specific pattern using the approved material. They converted some of their facility space into a “clean” sewing room and the Truck Hero team got to work. Even though material supplies were limited, they diligently pursued options to continue sewing numerous styles of masks reaching a production output of 1,000+ masks a day.
After more networking, Truck Hero began partnering with other local manufacturers. Just one example of the collaborative approach was with an apparel manufacturing company located in Snellville, Georgia, YSS Athletics, a division of FAM USA, Inc. The YSS team took their inventory of fabric and filter material and began cutting and producing “kits” for the Truck Hero team of sewers to assemble.
“As word got out in the community, we received requests for masks from first responders, nursing homes, medical and dental clinics in Georgia, Tennessee, New York, Indiana, California, and Florida. Our team stepped up and met the challenge to satisfy these requests.” said Fann.
“In addition to supplying masks to these community partners we also are in the process of supplying masks for all our Truck Hero locations to protect our employees.” Fann added.
Truck Hero’s design and development team also took action to help provide other PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). They started looking at the need for face shields. Within four days, the Georgia operation successfully designed, tested, tooled, and started production of a face shield incorporated over the bill of a ball cap. They also began production of traditional face shields using their 3D printing capabilities at numerous locations. Production with these 3D printers was limited so the Georgia operation began building tooling. Within two weeks of using the new tooling, production had increased by 20x over the 3D printing output.
Out of the innovation and necessary commercial application, two types of retail counter shields for retail stores were designed, developed, patented, and tooled within three weeks. The Truck Hero commercial products provide protection for their commercial customers and will be used internally to protect office employees.
Other Truck Hero locations in Michigan, Indiana, South Dakota, and Tennessee also got involved to respond to requests for masks, surgical gowns and face shields.
Fann said, “Telling this story is a tribute to our Truck Hero team. I threw out the challenge and they went to work. Our initial focus was to take care of and protect frontline healthcare workers, but we used our capabilities to create various products to protect other essential workers in numerous segments of society.”
“I’ve always been proud to be U.S. manufacturer. My pride has increased in the past months as I’ve witnessed many fellow manufacturers step up to the great challenges facing our country and our world. By utilizing their ingenuity and resources, they’ve kept people employed and provided essential safety masks and PPE. Thank you to Chris and his team at Truck Hero who stepped up and answered the call to action,” Winton shared. “With everything else going on, Chris even offered to deliver face shields to our Winton Machine facility to be sure our team was also safe. I call that going above and beyond.”
About Truck Hero, Inc.
Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Truck Hero® provides consumers a full range of branded automotive accessories for trucks, Jeep® brand vehicles and cars, with market leading functionality, engineering, quality, and design. For more information, please visit our website at truck-hero.com.
Truck Hero and the company’s family of brands are classified as critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security in the Critical Manufacturing Sector of Transportation Equipment Manufacturing to support the needs of the sector and beyond. Many of Truck Hero’s existing products support the transportation equipment needs of law enforcement, medical transport, fire safety personnel and many other critical businesses. Learn more at www.truck-hero.com.
About Winton Machine Company
Located in Suwanee, Georgia (metro Atlanta area), Winton Machine Company designs and manufactures complete engineered solutions so their customers can produce tubular parts for their products. They work with customers in a wide range of industries such as Refrigeration, HVAC, Construction, Aerospace, Furniture, Medical, Electronics, and more. The mission at Winton Machine is to design and build coax and tube fabrication machinery that adds value to our customers’ bottom line; to provide a stable and healthy environment for all our team members; to be known throughout the industry for delivering systems backed by expert and expedient technical support.
Winton Machine proudly represented the State of Georgia at the “2018 Made in America Product Showcase” held at the White House in Washington, D.C. Winton Machine received the 2019 Gwinnett Chamber IMPACT Regional Business Award for Small Business. Several other state and local organizations have also recognized Winton Machine for their contributions to Georgia’s manufacturing industry and their economic impact domestically and internationally. For more information, please visit www.wintonmachine.com or call 770-831-1917.