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Shifting Gears to Support PPE Efforts

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Trisha Dunham
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Speeding to the call for action, local companies Outerwears and JAC began making masks as soon as the need arose. Under the same ownership, both facilities specialize in cutting and sewing. Outerwears, located in Schoolcraft specializes in air filtration for general automotive and power sport use while JAC, based in Dowagiac focuses on creating health care and medical products for manufacturers. Owner Jay Garside said the transition from the original production at both facilities to supporting PPE efforts aligns with both company’s missions and has helped to keep their employees working. “I think we can all admit that taking a race car around in a circle right now is probably not the most essential,” said Jay. “We had time available to do something like this. It’s certainly provided products for people here to work on.”

Based on current supplies, the organizations have the capacity to create 18,000 masks. While the masks created at the facilities are sold, supplies are also provided for free to community members who are making masks at home and those masks are donated. While the basic skills of cutting and sewing have remained consistent, employees had to adapt to the change and quickly learn new techniques. Rosemarie Dobbs, chief operating officer said everyone at the facilities jumped on board to the change. “I think they feel that by helping the community that they live in  it makes it a little bit less scary for them,” said Rosemarie. “I know our staff feels privileged as well to be able to help out our community in this time. The community that we live in, the community that we work in.”

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