Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery was recently able to talk to Katie Larson, vice president of sales, Bedford Industries, on their decision to start creating PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Liz Parker: Why did you originally decide to dedicate production to creating PPE for the pandemic?
Katie Larson: In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold and news reports began emerging that medical workers were facing shortfalls of N95 masks and PPE supply, our team quickly huddled to see if we could leverage our experience and facilities to help health care workers.
Our company not only provides twist ties, bendable components and closures for the baking and snack industries—we also provide nose wires for medical masks, so we had familiarity with that industry.
Within a day, we had created and produced a prototype face shield that, when placed over an N95 mask, can extend its lifespan. Three days later, we were actively manufacturing ElastiShields.
LP: How has it been going?
KL: We soon began manufacturing and distributing tens of thousands of ElastiShields weekly. It’s certainly become a positive, transformative experience for our company.
Foremost, we took pride in that we were able to so quickly shift operations to not only produce ElastiShields, but also create and launch an online store to make purchasing an ElastiShield quick and convenient for users.
Usage of ElastiShield soon began expanding beyond medical professionals to include food producers and others working in close proximity. Then, as school season began approaching, we began receiving a high amount of inquiries from education professionals.
LP: Why are you expanding to youth?
KL: Consumer demand. We began receiving inquiries about youth face shield sizes almost immediately after we began to mass produce our standard ElastiShield. Then, as school season began approaching, those requests intensified. We’re so thrilled to now offer what folks have been asking for.
LP: What are the other positive aspects of this work?
KL: Producing ElastiShield has been an emotional lift for our more than 400 employees in the midst of the stress of this global emergency. We hear stories from medical workers, other industries where employees work in close proximity and everyday consumers expressing their gratitude and appreciation.
Not to mention, our employees have elderly parents and/or grandparents; kids, grandkids and nieces and nephews returning to school; and family members working in education or healthcare. We are all concerned about COVID-19; this is personal for us, just as it is for so many other manufacturers providing PPE.
LP: Do you recommend that the face shield be used by itself, or in combination with a face mask?
KL: An FDA-registered device, we have seen our customers wear ElastiShield both with and without a face mask. We encourage consumers to follow the requirements of their state or workplace. Because of the shield’s flexibility, users have also worn our face shield in conjunction with glasses, goggles, helmets, hard hats, and caps.