PITTSBORO, Ind. (WTHR) - More Hoosier companies are pivoting production with their factories, making completely different products than they normally do, specifically to protect health care workers.
Workers at Fleece Performance Engineering in Pittsboro are packaging and shipping out protective face masks.
"We've gotten orders from the state and we're branching out even further than that," explained Fleece president and co-owner, Brayden Fleece. "We've shipped to Washington, California, everywhere in between."
They have 16,000 orders for plastic shields so far for health care workers and first responders. It's a brand new industry for Fleece.
Four days ago, they were making high-performance car and truck parts.
But the pandemic caused engineers to grab supplies and get creative.
"Got some material, went out to the laser cutter and cut up a mask," Fleece said. "Within 48 hours, we had designed, tested, made a couple iterations, sent samples out to Hendricks Regional Health to test and then subsequently filed for a patent, applied for a patent and then shipped 600 units within 48 hours," Fleece added.
They soon hope to manufacture 10,000 masks an hour.
Local hospitals are already responding with gratitude for filling a critical need.
On Tuesday, Hendricks Regional Health put up a sign in front of Fleece's facility thanking them for their dedication to health care workers.
For this family-owned company, it's personal.
"My wife's a nurse. My sister's a nurse, sister-in-law's in nursing. A lot of people here, their significant other's either in the first responder field or health care," Fleece said, "so it's like how can we make a difference?"
It's not the only business making a difference.
Primex Plastics in Richmond is manufacturing thousands of its own bio-medical face shields that attach to a helmet.
Someone from Reid Hospital expressed a need to a member of the Primex sales team at a bible study last Sunday.
So that Monday, Primex says its design team worked "Apollo 13 style", laying out parts and creating a prototype.
Reid ordered 5,000 shields and after word spread on social media, Primex is getting orders from elsewhere, as well.
"It is gratifying to be able to accomplish that mission during this time of need. Our employees have gone the extra mile to ensure we support our production needs, and proud of the contributions they are making in the healthcare community," Primex said in a statement to Eyewitness News.
These are just two of many Hoosier companies, getting inventive to protect those on the front lines of COVID-19.
"Present us with a challenge and we'll take it on for sure," Fleece said.
Fleece Performance is now looking into the possibility of creating and manufacturing other products needed for health care workers, such as ventilator parts and intubation boxes.