CORONAVIRUS: STRONGER TOGETHER

Utah Company Shifts To Face Shield, Mask Production Amid COVID-19 Shortages

Mar 25, 2020, 8:49 AM | Updated: 8:55 am

MIDVALE, Utah – A Utah company that usually manufactures boat tops and covers has reconfigured its operation amid the spread of COVID-19 in order to produce face shields and masks for hospital workers.

SugarHouse Industries president Mike Peterson said Tuesday that as supplies of those items have been waning across the country because of the response to the novel coronavirus, he already had materials in ample supply to start producing them.

“We use that vinyl to make windows and enclosures for boat tops,” Peterson said. “We’ve repurposed it now to make face shields.”

Peterson said the company hoped initially to produce thousands of shields and masks per week, but he said as workers grew accustomed to the processes, that amount eventually could be ramped up to thousands of units per day.

The increased demand so far in the healthcare industry has also coincided with lagging sales in the products the company has traditionally made.

“(We) can already feel people are a little bit leery to buy awnings and boat covers,” Peterson said. “We had the idea that we could use our resources and our expertise.”

Peterson said he hoped the changes would benefit the community while keeping his workers busy during difficult economic times.

“These will keep us going,” he said.

It wouldn’t be the first time the family business has had to shift its focus toward producing something different.

World War II also forced Peterson’s grandfather, Walter Peterson, to get creative.

“I’ve kind of caught a glimpse of what my grandpa went through,” he said. “He had a brand new little company in 1941. The war started and to survive he started selling paint.”

Peterson remarked that the company had come “full circle.”

“Here we are now selling face shields to the medical industry,” Peterson said.

Already, the business said it had received interest in its new products from hospitals in Utah and Washington.

“I feel fortunate that we caught on to this and were able to evolve and pivot quickly,” Peterson said. “We’re up for it!”

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Utah Company Shifts To Face Shield, Mask Production Amid COVID-19 Shortages