Today, as medical professionals and private citizens worldwide struggle to understand the novel coronavirus and how to protect themselves from contracting it, a phrase coined decades ago by the Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale comes to mind.
“Find a need and fill it” takes on new meaning as businesses across the globe switch from making products as diverse as automobiles, clothing, mattresses, adult beverages and hockey equipment to producing such in-demand items as hand sanitizer, disinfectants, ventilators and personal protective gear that ranges from n95 masks and face shields to gowns and disposable gloves.
Colorado companies were quick to respond.
Topo Designs, a Denver-based manufacturer of backpacks and outdoor apparel, was one of the first to address the mask shortage by partnering with the state of Colorado and the Colorado Mask Project to produce 10,000 masks for vulnerable populations and essential workers that have a critical need, limited access to protective equipment and the inability to social distance. Online sales were added and the $16 garments quickly sold out.
Denver Mattress Company executives, realizing that it wouldn’t take much to reorganize its manufacturing line to help meet the mask shortage, adopted an all-hands-on-deck production schedule, enabling the company to produce large quantities to be distributed to hospitals and medical facilities. On March 26, the first day of production, 1,200 masks were completed; the current 10,000 per day is expected to increase as the need demands. Denver Mattress has also partnered with Visser Precision to produce adjustable molded head visors.
When The Brewers Association canceled its 2020 World Beer Cup, which was to have begun on April 17 in San Antonio, Texas, the big question was what to do with the cans and bottles of beer that had been submitted for prize consideration by 2,700 U.S. breweries. The answer: donate the 1,500 gallons to Denver Distillery and Ballmer Peak Distillery to make hand sanitizer using the official World Health Organization recipe. Denver Distillery is selling its sanitizer in bottles and bulk; it can be purchased at the distillery, 244 S. Broadway, or online by visiting denverdistillery.com. Ballmer Peak distributes 4-ounce bottles for free from noon to 5 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday during a drive-through conducted at the distillery, 12347 W. Alameda Parkway, Lakewood. Larger bottles are free for first responders and healthcare providers.
Ballmer Peak co-founder Austin Adamson said in an interview with The Denver Channel that the 160-proof sanitizer contains 80 percent alcohol, glycerin and hydrogen peroxide. “It probably doesn’t taste good, but it’ll kill anything on your hands.”
Some 34 Colorado distilleries are making hand sanitizers, including Big Fat Pastor Distillery in Loveland, Golden Moon Distillery in Golden, Rocker Spirits in Littleton and Conflagration Distilling Company: Strong Spirits by Firefighters.
Woodward, Inc. of Fort Collins, in partnership with Colorado State University, in April shifted from manufacturing aerospace controls to making low-cost ventilators that would be used in Colorado hospitals.
The firm, which had never before made a medical device, crafted the oxygen delivery machines, dubbed the Aether 100, by modifying its off-the-shelf fuel injectors, testing them for efficacy and long-term durability at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver and Anschutz Medical Center in Aurora.
Englewood’s Adco Hearing Products is now selling “communicator masks” that better enable the hearing impaired to see facial expressions and read the wearer’s lips. Owner Abby Armijo told Fox-31 that the masks were designed by Adco employees who make them with the help of volunteers. They sell for $15.99 and $19.99, with a portion of the proceeds used to provide masks to schools in Colorado.
Elsewhere, an event planning company – the Northbrook, Ill.- based Platinum Events – did its part by pausing its award-winning productions for weddings, fundraisers, corporate events and personal milestone celebrations in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Miami to become Platinum Sanitation, a business focused on disinfecting surfaces and floors in grocery stores and other high-traffic venues.
Automakers like Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Tesla, Lamborghini, Peugeot and Mercedes-AMG, working alone or in partnership with such companies as General Electric Healthcare, Ventec and 3M, have either halted or slowed production in favor of turning out ventilators, respirators and medical-grade face shields. Hyundai sponsored drive-through testing sites at 22 hospitals; in Detroit, Honda retrofitted a fleet of its Odyssey minivans to transport healthcare workers to hospitals and those feared to have COVID-19 to testing sites.
ChargedUp, Europe’s largest phone charging network, shifted its free-standing charging stations to hand sanitizing stations in supermarkets, train stations, pharmacies and shopping centers.
In April, Carhartt, known since 1889 for its durable outerwear, began producing medical-grade masks and gowns for healthcare workers. The initial goal was to have 50,000 gowns and 2.5 million masks distributed by the end of May, with production to continue as long as the need is there. New Hampshire-based sports equipment company Bauer Hockey switched its focus from the manufacture of skates, sticks, pads and helmets to making face shields for doctors treating COVID-19 patients throughout the U.S. and Canada.
These businesses and others have been true to Peale’s please to find a need and fill it, so crucial during this global health crisis.
Joanne Davidson’s news writing career has included a seven-year stint as San Francisco bureau chief for US News & World Report magazine and 29 years as The Denver Post’s society editor.
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