Sewing Up A Hole

By Fred Arnold Telescope Publisher
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It’s not the first time Scott Specialties has pitched in to help during a crisis. But for company president Jim McDonald, this time around there’s a lot more on the line.

The global manufacturer of orthopedic related medical products, founded in 1962, recently started manufacturing cloth masks to help fill a large void in availability nationwide.

“In 1993 during the Scandia flood we started producing sandbags for use along the Republican River out of extra ‘Kermit The Frog’ material we had in the plant,” he said. “But this situation is far, far different.”

McDonald said with the daily bombardment of COVID-19 news on all forms of media, one fact kept coming to the top over and over. There simply aren’t enough masks available to medical professionals and the general public. He said extra material in the Belleville plant and discussion among research and development staff sparked an idea.

“Around the end of March we became aware of the shortage of N95 masks and the need for face masks made from fabric,” he said.

“We wanted to supply masks to our employees and then pretty soon outside businesses and industries came calling asking if we could make fabric masks for their operations,” McDonald added.

The idea became reality.

The Scott Specialties head said the masks are not N95, but are made of a triple layer material with a wire metal added to the nosepiece and are available in two sizes, medium and large. The ‘Made In The USA’ product is constricted with all FDA approved materials and is machine washable. McDonald noted the masks were designed with specifications received from healthcare staff and online research.

Initial research was done in the Belleville facility.

“They should be used as the CDC recommends,” McDonald said “We add specific instructions on how to use the masks in the packaging of each mask,” he said.

The company president said that right now orders are through the roof and Scotts is working to ramp up production as quickly as possible. He said production is being done right now at the Concordia plant but extra production could be ramped up to include Scott plants in Belleville and Clay Center.

McDonald said one of the biggest hindrances facing the companies lies in getting the needed raw materials shipped in.

“We’ve got more companies asking about masks than we can get out right now. We’re trying to get answers for those companies. I hope to have answers this week.” “We are somewhat limited in production based on the availability of raw materials,” he said. “We have gone through over 1,000 yards of fabric and have more on order that we are trying to expedite.” In an interview with the Telescope, McDonald was asked if the development and production of masks would become a regular part of their sales offering long-term, or if the company was working on an immediate national need. “Right now we’ve got to do what we can to help medical professionals, essential businesses and individuals…it’s all about doing what we can right now.”

This time it’s different than ‘Kermit The Frog.”