Madison, Wis.-based thermoformer Placon Corp. created an alliance to help meet demand for face shield components amid the coronavirus pandemic.
CEO Dan Mohs explained the quick, five-day transition for three of its facilities to begin supplying face shield components to assemblers.
It started in March, when Placon donated materials to a group of University of Wisconsin professors who prototyped a face shield based on simple products.
Dubbed the "Badger shield," it included a clear plastic shield, a foam brow piece and a simplistic tie.
Placon had previously been working with the university on sustainability initiatives.
"It was something that was fun and easy to do to help them out, and we posted it on social media on a Friday and by Sunday we were getting calls from all over the place," Mohs said.
Ford Motor Co. was among the biggest customers to come calling for medical face shield materials they could use to assemble the shields. But many other companies that were adjusting their lines to produce face shields sought out Placon's materials.
The packaging giant then went from inquiry to production within five days.
"We tooled up our machinery, had daily meetings, sometimes twice per day, and we scaled up as quickly as we could," Mohs said. "I've never seen business development so quickly so we just kept making tools and expanding."
Demand skyrocketed as Ford, which is assembling face shields at some factories, continued to order more materials from the packager. Placon was running the lines for trimming the shields at three facilities.
That's when the idea for the Placon Face Shield Alliance was born.
"We still couldn't meet demand, so we called up some local companies and formed an alliance," he said.