Right now, 86-year-old employee Nina Anderson is happily making masks and other protective gear at Anderson Fabrics. Nina (a distant relation of the company’s founders) has resisted her employer’s urging to stay home, and now works amid precautions that keep her and fellow employees safe—including social distancing, frequent cleanings, and PPE. She thinks of this as her mission.
The company says the same thing of its efforts. The Minnesota manufacturer, which normally makes window treatments, bedding and other interior design elements, was in an unusual position to help when COVID-19 hit. Few companies in the U.S. have hundreds of commercial sewing machines—and hundreds of employees who know how to run them—to make PPE this quickly.
What they’re making: 250+ employees are producing masks and ties of different varieties—including an original, fully adjustable mask, a mask with ties and custom accessory bands for elastic masks. All of these help relieve ear pain caused by extended mask use.
Plus, the company is also producing isolation gowns, booties, and hoods.
Who benefits: Anderson Fabrics has received phone calls from local healthcare operations, sheriffs’ departments, dentists, long-term care facilities and many other Minnesota manufacturers in need of specific PPE. It’s made a point of collaborating with any organization that needs assistance.
The numbers: The company has already sold or donated nearly 80,000 masks and currently has the capacity to produce between 2,000 and 3,000 per day.
And that’s not all . . . The company is also designing new products like reusable PAPR hoods.
PAPR hoods use positive air pressure and a face shield to keep outside air particles away from the wearer’s face. Generally, they’re disposable—but supplies are running short.
- The solution: Anderson Fabrics has been working with a large healthcare organization to create a PAPR hood that can be disassembled, laundered and reused to prevent shortages.
- The next step: The design will be submitted to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the FDA for approval and certification. The company hopes to make it available on a large scale soon.
In her own words: Recently, Nina wrote a poem about Anderson Fabrics, her fellow employees and the experience of so many COVID-19 responders. You can listen to Nina recite the poem here.