Newark-based Unionwear, a manufacturer of union-made in USA hats, bags and binders for the promotional, fashion and uniform markets, is producing 8,000 to 10,000 face shields per day to assist during the COVID-10 pandemic and protect health care workers.
“When the opportunity arose we realized we were uniquely suited to make these because it combines the sweatband used in baseball caps with the clear vinyl we use in the binders and portfolios we manufacture so we had almost zero learning curve or tooling,” Unionwear founder and President Mitch Cahn told NJBIZ.
“We were introduced to the NY Hospital Association by our labor union. The hospital workers are all SEIU 1199 union members and our workers are also represented by SEIU. We have worked with Polymer Technologies in Clifton on our military application so we had them design the plastic visor that makes the shield removable, replaceable and cleanable.”
So far Cahn’s production is slated for hospitals but he has received inquiries from the military and other health care organizations. The sewing is designed to be done at home so workers with cars and home machines can make the bands at home and the different parts can be kitted at the hospitals, Cahn said.
“This way workers do not need to come in contact with one another and can safely quarantine,” Cahn said. “We have about 30 people working at home and we also have about 20 people working on it in our facility. Our capacity is 25,000 units a day but is easily expandable.
“We feel this will be a permanent part of our product line—we designed it so that it would be cost competitive with the cheap personal protective equipment coming in from China once imports resume,” he said.
Unionwear has an existing established supply chain to produce baseball hats, binders and portfolios.
“We basically cleaned out our vendors of materials to fill our capacity and to meet the needs of area hospitals,” Cahn said.
The masks are heading to hospitals in New York with other masks being donated to hospitals in New Jersey. Cahn is contacting hospitals in Kentucky and California.
Unionwear is experiencing logistical problems due to COVID-19. Cahn does not know who is going to show up for work as employees and vendors are working remotely, resulting in processes taking longer than normal.