American Leather Holdings, a Dallas-based furniture manufacturer, with plants in Texas as well as in North Carolina, is shifting its manufacturing capabilities to produce protective face masks and gowns for individuals in need who are working on the front lines fighting the virus.
According to company officials the items will be available to hospitals local to all of their plants, as well as some orders coming in on a national level. The company has prototyped the protective gear already and is building them according to required standards, with full production starting this week.
This initiative will help, even if in a small way, by providing thousands of masks in record time to those in need, company officials said. “By producing locally, we can get them to the front lines quickly,” said Bruce Birnbach, CEO of American Leather Holdings. “Since most masks have been made overseas up until now, this local response is critical.”
The American Leather Holdings companies participating include American Leather, based in Dallas and employing an in-house sewing staff, and Lee Industries and Brookline Furniture both with manufacturing centers in North Carolina.
The company has been in communication with the White House and local hospitals and organizations in need, both in Texas and North Carolina, to offer its manufacturing capabilities to produce masks and gowns, and requests are already coming in for orders in the tens of thousands. The three facilities combined anticipate being able to produce 10,000-20,000 masks per week and 4,000-5,000 gowns per week.
In order to be operating safely during this time, the plants have implemented extreme safety measures such as split shifts, spreading out of workspaces and constant cleaning, to keep employees safe. Plus, to be sensitive to their employees’ concerns during this time, they are allowing the workforce to choose whether or not they want to come in to make these goods.
“We don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable, as we recognize that anxiety levels differ, so we are giving them the option of working or not, however we are happy that this helps keep our team working, with an income, while many in this country are losing their jobs,” added Birnbach. “It is not an easy time right now, but we are proud to do our small part in helping our country during this unprecedented crisis, and hopefully helping to keep people healthy.”