Local Mask Company Having Tough Time Competing Against Foreign Manufacturers
LINDON, Utah – A Utah County company makes high-quality face masks, .and has lots of them to sell because it’s having a tough time finding buyers. It’s an issue a lot of similar companies have been facing because of foreign competition.
There’s something about working for a company you believe in. That’s why Paul Hickey can look at what he has helped build and smile.
“We’re very proud of what we’ve done,” he said. “We saw a need to jump in and help supply the American people with essential goods.”
Hickey is the president of PuraVita Medical in Lindon. It’s a company that makes high-quality KN95 and N95 masks, as well as other medical masks.
U.S. mask manufacturers say they're having a tough time selling their KN95 and N95 masks to governments and hospital groups because of foreign competition. One of those companies is based in Lindon. They began operations a year ago to help fill the need. Our story @KSL5TV at 10. pic.twitter.com/lnEbUP92DJ
— Alex Cabrero (@KSL_AlexCabrero) February 13, 2021
Hickey and a friend started the company when COVID-19 concerns began, knowing America would need them.
“This is one of the reasons why we decided to jump in,” said Hickey. “Be good Americans. Be good patriots. Let’s help become independent of the things we need to be independent of.”
PuraVita Medical has made millions of masks. The problem is they have had a tough time finding someone to buy them.
“We started submitting bids to the U.S. government, the state governments, the hospitals, and we are losing every single bid to Chinese companies. Every single one,” said Hickey.
PuraVita Medical wasn’t alone.
A recent article in The New York Times revealed several small U.S. mask manufacturers are having a tough time selling their inventory of high-quality masks, and may be in danger of closing, because of the cheaper Chinese masks American governments and hospital groups are buying.
“That is frustrating because our own government is working against us to become more independent for our PPE needs,” said Hickey.
He was also worried about the quality of foreign masks, especially since the CDC sent out a warning last week about counterfeit masks with false labels of federal approval.
“This is a serious product. This isn’t like buying rubber bands from China and some of them break,” said Hickey. “This is a device that’s intended to literally prevent you from getting a potentially deadly disease.”
Hickey said he feels companies buying foreign masks should batch-test them to make sure they represent what they’re claiming.
“I guarantee you the doctors and nurses on the front lines, they don’t have the ability to choose their masks,” said Hickey. “Their hospitals are buying them, and most healthcare workers don’t know how fraudulent or how many fake counterfeit masks are out there.”
Hickey said he’s had more success selling masks to dentists, since dentists buy their own inventory.
PuraVita Medical also sells masks directly to the public.
However, they would like to see government agencies and hospital groups give American-based mask manufacturers a chance to sell to them.
He also saidd it would help if smaller companies such as his were able to sell their masks on eBay and Amazon that are currently flooded with foreign competition.
“American products are great. People around the world want made in America products,” said Hickey.
For now, Hickey just wants to raise awareness of this issue because he believes most people and healthcare workers don’t know about it.
“We need to make them aware,” he said. “If they start going ‘I’m not wearing this mask unless it’s tested,’ things will change rapidly for American manufacturers like us.”
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