AirBoss of America Corp.'s defense group continues to carry a heavy load during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fortunately, the company has proven that it's up to the task — thanks in part to a solid, versatile workforce; a group of adaptable plants; and the merger of the firm's defense operation with Critical Solutions International Inc., creating AirBoss Defense Group, at the beginning of January.
Since March, the business has been awarded several contracts from various entities within the U.S government and other countries to produce a variety of respirator systems and personal protective equipment to combat the virus.
In addition, the company has been selected to provide a variety of different survivability offerings to primarily military and government customers, separate from the COVID-19 orders.
AirBoss rushed into the battle with the coronavirus in late March when it received a $96.4 million contract from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency for the manufacture of 100,000 FlexAir Powered Air Purifying Respirator systems, 600,000 filters and related accessories in a short time span.
It was a hard order to fill, but the operations team at AirBoss "was able to execute a nearly impossible task because FEMA needed the 100,000 PAPRs in 100 days in order to quickly get this critical PPE to hospitals around the country," said Chris Bitsakakis, president and chief operating officer of the firm.
"We dedicated over 40 people to manage the global supply chain as well as the production ramp-up across five AirBoss factories," he said. "Our production employees [throughout the company] stepped up and were willing to put themselves at risk during the height of the pandemic in order to protect the doctors and nurses on the front lines.
"It was really amazing to witness the dedication and commitment. We are extremely proud of what our employees accomplished and continue to accomplish as we replenish the national stockpile."
The Newmarket, Ontario-based company successfully completed filling the FEMA contract at the end of July. It makes its PAPR systems at the company's plants in Landover, Md., and Auburn Hills, Mich.