In these challenging times, we here at Flowfold found ourselves in the position to adapt and be a part of the solution. In mid-March 2020, we pivoted our business to make personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals and health care facilities in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Given the shortages of PPE in hospitals across the country, we suspended production of our usual products (wallets, backpacks, and related travel and everyday accessories), and switched to the production of face shields.
Our flexible manufacturing facility, which includes a large, material cutting machine typically used to prepare pieces of fabric for bags and wallets, was retooled along with all our other machinery to produce large quantities of protective face shields for health care workers fighting the virus.
Left: A Flowfold employee assembles face shields while taking precautions. Right: Our industrial cutting machine seen before a cutout of Maine state.
According to the CDC on Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations, “person-to-person transmission most commonly happens during close exposure to a person infected with COVID-19, primarily via respiratory droplets produced when the infected person coughs or sneezes.” Personal protective equipment is specifically designed to limit the danger of transmission to the men and women on the front line, our Health Care Providers (HCP). However, hospitals across the country are experiencing shortages of PPE, putting HCPs at great risk. Some hospital workers have resorted to using goggles, bandanas, and makeshift face masks and shields to protect themselves. As a manufacturer with the capability to quickly test and develop products, we knew this was an area in which we could step up and provide support.
“We felt the effects of the virus in our community and wanted to be a part of the solution,” says Devin McNeill, Flowfold’s Co-Founder. “Taking a look at our production capabilities, we found we could quickly pivot to manufacture face shields.”
As we have swiftly adapted our workspace and production process to produce these critical pieces of PPE, we've made sure to do so in a safe and low-risk manner. We cannot provide protective equipment to hospitals if our own team isn't kept safe and healthy. Sewing machines have been moved at least 6 feet apart, new, intensive cleaning schedules are in place to make sure our factory stays decontaminated, and our doors are effectively locked to keep the workspace as sterile as possible.
As we shift to producing protective shields, we've implemented precautions, such as gloves, face masks, and intensive sanitation processes.
Our first order of Face Shields went to MaineHealth in late March. MaineHealth is one of Maine's largest health care providers, and has been integral in our shift to producing PPE for hospitals and other health care facilities.
“It is times like these when coming together as a community to support one another – individuals, non-profit organizations and business partners – reflects the very best of humanity,” says MaineHealth CEO Bill Caron. “Flowfold is one such example of how collaboration and innovation will help us navigate the challenges ahead as we address this unprecedented health care crisis together.”
Today, we've increased capacity of our production line to meet the needs of other essential industries:
We are proud to be a part of a community that comes together to face its challenges, no matter how unprecedented and daunting. While pivoting our business and production to making face shields means suspending initiatives such as our custom gear program and new product launches, we are ready to focus our resources and manufacturing expertise towards the fight against COVID-19.
As for our customers and ever-supportive Flowfold fans, you will still be able to order and receive products through our retail website. Now more than ever, your support of our business goes a long way in helping our team and community.
Thank you and stay safe out there.
- the Flowfold Team