Evenflo takes on PPE production

Alicia Olivera, left, pulls a part off the press that will be a component of a protective face shield at Evenflo in Piqua on Wednesday as Joe Calabrese, vice president of Operations for Evenflo, displays a prototype of the finished product.

Mike Ullery | Miami Valley Today

PIQUA — Evenflo, which designs and manufacturers safety products to protect infants and toddlers, has stepped up and joined with other manufacturers in the state to help make parts for face shields to add to the state’s available personal protective equipment (PPE).

Joe Calabrese, the vice president of Operations at Evenflo, said the safety of children is Evenflo’s priority, and now, Evenflo is able to help healthcare workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We just wanted to get involved,” Calabrese said.

Trifecta Tool and Engineering, located in Kettering, and Fastlane, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) for West Central Ohio at the University of Dayton, reached out to Evenflo to be apart of the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance’s effort to begin a large scale production of face shields to add to the state’s available PPE.

Calabrese said Evenflo is making a polypropylene component for the face shields using a mold created by Trifecta. Trifecta’s mold would have normally taken them a minimum of between 30-60 days to make, but Calabrese said Trifecta completed that mold, and other molds for six other manufacturers, in just eight days.

“His entire shop dropped everything,” Calabrese said, which he said showed the “sense of urgency and complete focus” of Trifecta to create these molds as part of the effort to help protect healthcare employees taking care of patients with COVID-19.

Production of Evenflo’s components for the face shields began Wednesday. For Evenflo — which usually manufactures items like car seats, safety gates, and other products aimed protecting infants and toddlers — these efforts fit into their overall goal.

“Our goal is to protect,” Calabrese said. “Now we get to expand that.”

Calabrese said they received their first order to make 100,000 units of that component for the face shields, but they plan on making as many as are needed. Six other manufacturers are also producing the same components that Evenflo is making, and Evenflo is producing approximately 5,000 of those components a day.

“We’re not doing anything different than any other company would do,” Calabrese said.

Last week, Governor Mike DeWine said the state plans to add 750,000 to 1 million face shields to the Ohio Department of Health stockpile over the next five weeks, thanks to the efforts of the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance. FastLane is coordinating the local effort in the Miami Valley, which includes a partnership with Premier Health, Kettering Health Network, and Dayton Children’s Hospital.

The face shield production is part of Ohio’s strategy to buy PPE when it is available, make PPE when it cannot be purchased, and use technology and innovation to identify ways to make Ohio’s PPE supplies last.

“These face shields will make a difference as we fight this invisible enemy,” said DeWine in a press release. “The Ohio Manufacturing Alliance sent out a call for help producing PPE and more than 1,500 manufacturing companies responded. This reinforces what we know about Ohio companies. They are generous and will answer the call when needed. Together, we are going to protect our protectors and strengthen our manufacturing sector.”

Face shields will be the first PPE produced under this alliance’s efforts, and according to FastLane, their goal is also “to secure additional materials and engage more manufacturers in the production of isolation gowns and masks, N95 respirators, gloves, hand sanitizer, and swabs.”

Manufacturers who can help with PPE production should visit RepurposingProject.com for more information. Those with donations should visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.