Packaging manufacturers began the year with business as usual, but about two months into 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe, many had a mad dash to expand production or create new products.
Film and sheet extruders dove into making face shields and personal protective equipment for consumers to fight the pandemic. Others jumped to expand capacity to meet demand for highly sought-after disinfectant wipes, both for the cannister and the nonwoven fabric within.
Richmond, Ind.-based Primex Plastics Corp. is most known for producing returnable packaging for the automotive industry. When auto companies essentially came to a halt at the height of the pandemic in the spring, Primex was able to quickly switch to make PPE and more.
The idea transpired on a Sunday evening when Business Director Doug Borgsdorf's 16-year-old son came downstairs and said, "Dad, you have to make face shields. Turn on the news; they need face shields."
Borgsdorf said, "OK, I make boxes," but that did get him thinking and quickly he and his son, Andrew, cobbled together a mock design that the Primex team later fine-tuned to make face shields.
The local hospital, Reid Health, was in dire need of a shield and came to Primex and signed off on a design within just a few hours of negotiating.
"Off we went to the racetrack," he said.
The first delivery of PPE to the hospital received a police escort, a sign that Borgsdorf said pointed to their small, blue-collar community working together.