VAN WERT – With the demand and urgent need for personal protective equipment (PPE) soaring with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, local manufacturer KAM Manufacturing Inc. has been able to adapt to allow for the manufacturing of PPE products at its 1197 Grill Road facility in Vision Industrial Park.

KAM Manufacturing, which has been in business in the Van Wert community since 1983, is a cut-and-sew manufacturer of American-made products, producing products for many businesses nationwide, as well as its own Stephanie Dawn handbag line.

However, KAM has never been a manufacturer of items for the medical field, and had to make a number of adjustments to manufacture this new line of products.

“We really had to consider what capabilities our facility and production team are able to do with what we have available. We have a highly skilled team of employees here at KAM and they are able to work many different processes to all the products that are produced here,” said KAM Marketing Manager, Ty Coil. “KAM is a family-owned and operated business, so we also take pride in offering jobs to those in our community, providing economic growth to our city, and to make great quality “Made in USA” products for those nationwide.”

“Many will assume that this changeover is effortless, when in fact it is very tedious and time consuming,” said KAM owner Ollie Adams. “There are many factors or variables to manufacturing, and, for us, learning a new field, coordinating sales reps, new material (and) processes, connecting with vendors for supplies, training our team, producing the products, packaging and coordinating efforts with carriers is only just the beginning.”

“When the COVID-19 information was becoming more frequent, we quickly began to coordinate efforts with other like-minded businesses in our industry, reaching out to our local and state officials, (and) FEMA, as we wanted to help with this crisis, but wanted to be certain how we went about doing things: safely, correctly, and efficiently,” Adams explained. “We were able to convert our facility in a matter of days, when it would typically take weeks or months.”

In a very uncertain time for many businesses, KAM was certain it could help produce the needed PPE that so many businesses and organizations need. The company was very fortunate to be guided to the appropriate channels that allowed them to apply for, and be accepted into, Governor DeWine’s Ohio Manufacturing Alliance Group. This group, or registry, places manufacturers into a database for PPE items that can be manufactured here in Ohio, and to provide a go-to database to find PPE needed by a business or organization.

Once KAM was approved for production of Isolation gowns and personal face masks, KAM team members were brought back to work, following new safety protocols that includes daily temperature checks, frequent handwashing, the wearing of face masks, and deep cleaning and sanitizing.

These PPE items are now new products being manufactured at KAM Manufacturing Inc., in addition to the company’s quilted Stephanie Dawn handbag line and other American-made products manufactured at the facility. Since the beginning of producing PPE in April, KAM has produced more than 15,000 isolation gowns and 25,000 personal face masks, and continues to receive large order requests from businesses both locally & all over the country needing these items.

“In addition to quickly turning around our manufacturing facility to accommodate these new changes and safety protocols that we are enforcing every day, we have increased our workforce by 50 percent,” Adams said. “With the high demand of production, we have had to hire additional team members and we are still planning on hiring more just to keep up with the everyday production of this growing need.

“Utilizing our local resources for finding those looking for employment, we were able to reach out to local website www.vanwertworks.com for posting our job information, our KAM Facebook page, and even contacting our local county high schools to ask for them to reach out to their juniors and seniors,” Adams noted. “We are excited to see our team grow as we provide the training necessary for the manufacturing tasks at hand. The fact that a declining business of such skill, sewing facilities and manufacturers, is now at the forefront of the manufacturing industry is simply amazing. We simply cannot take for granted all the skills, businesses, and products that are available here in the USA.”

There are no onsite sales of face masks or gowns at KAM. To order personal face masks online, go to www.stephaniedawn.net/PPE or call the office during business hours for assistance over the phone, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (closed for lunch from noon-12:30 p.m.) at 855-238-6580. Bulk orders of personal face masks or isolation gowns can be ordered by email at info@kammfg.com or by calling the above telephone number. Those interested in applying for work can email info@kammfg.com or stop by the office to pick up an application.