When you have the skills and talent to help, you step up. That’s a core value of Garner Products, Inc. It’s the driving reason behind the decision to expand beyond our Mission Critical manufacturing of NSA/CSS EPL-listed data erasure and destruction equipment to develop custom face shields to helpt protect healthcare first responders battling against COVID-19.
Then there is the personal reason. Owners Ron and Michelle Stofan’s daughter is a nurse. While her hospital is not in a coronavirus hot spot, the Stofans saw a broader need. They wanted to make sure that healthcare providers have the equipment they need to protect themselves.
“We heard there was a shortage of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), and we wanted to do something about it,” said Vice President, Michelle Stofan.
The first step in our process was matching the PPE shortages to Garner’s manufacturing capabilities. That evaluation led to the decision to make face shields using our Flow waterjet. A waterjet uses a hair-thin, high-pressured stream of water as its cutting tool. Garner’s engineering team designed the face shield program in CAD, which was then converted into CAM and programmed into the waterjet. Next, Garner faced the challenge of many manufacturers in this environment—sourcing the right materials.
“Due to material shortages, it was difficult finding the plastic shield and elastic band material in the correct thickness. Engineering also designed and built a device that cut the elastic bands and seared the ends so they wouldn’t fray,” explained Ron Stofan.
With the design and manufacturing challenges behind them, it was time to find the manpower to get the job done. Because the entire Garner team is still working at full capacity on our current customer commitments, the face shield project needed an extra effort. It was an effort that everyone from engineering to sales to graphics design was willing to step up to.
A former machine shop team member, Justin Stofan, who is now part of the sales team, came in after hours to run the waterjet to cut the shields. Engineer, Ryan Moore, did assembly and packaging. A special touch was added by the graphics design department for the headband, provided by our graphic designer Shannon Hulley. Instead of a sterile hospital look, she designed a fun band with pictures of puppies, kittens and other images that would make patients smile.
“The goal is to help people and also make their lives a little happier,” Ron said.
The first 100 shields made were sent to Hilltop Community Resources in Grand Junction, CO. to support their mission of compassionate and comprehensive human services and care.
Garner’s team is reaching out to local hospitals and care centers to identify where additional shields can do the most good.
Written by Michael Harstrick