BOSTON (CBS) -- With medical workers in desperate need of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic, many sporting equipment companies are calling an audible and shifting their production to help those who need it most. G-Form in Smithfield, Rhode Island is one of the latest organizations to jump over the boards and help.
It was an easy call for Glen Giovanucci, G-Form's CEO and a former hockey star and assistant coach at Northeastern. With medical workers in need, the company has gone from making sports protective gear -- including elbow pads for MLB and the Premiere Soccer League -- to making face shields to help nurses, doctors and first responders on the front lines in the fight against coroanvirus.
"We're a manufacturer, so we figured if we can get the supplies we could figure out a process to make them," Giovanucci told WBZ-TV's Steve Burton. "It's a radically change, but it's unbelievable to see the teamwork, not only inside our company but the vendors we're buying supplies from."
This is a local process for G-Form. When sporting good stores closed their doors, orders stopped rolling in, and the company was facing the possibility of having to lay off their workforce. Making the switch not only allowed them to keep their 40 workers employed, but they've also helped keep other companies in business by buying the plastic for the shields locally.
"It was kind of like a Hail Mary pass. We were hoping we could find something and we made it happen. We're very lucky to be able to help out our people and their jobs, but more importantly providing PPEs to the first-line responders in the medical community," said Giovanucci.
It took some time to figure out how to make the masks, but G-Form designers and engineers came up with the design over the last few weeks. The company is producing over 10,000 masks a day, and is aiming much higher now that the process is part of their everyday playbook.
"We hope to get into triple digits soon," said Giovanucci. "The hardest part is getting the materials in. It's like toilet paper and milk and eggs; people want the materials and are grabbing them. We're just trying to find it where we can and figuring out all the options."
The company is working with local government agencies, local hospitals and medical distributors to make sure these masks get to the front line. The first shipment went out on Wednesday.
Giovanucci, a captain on the Huskies hockey team in the 1980s, is amazed at the dedication the G-Form team has shown during these uneasy crisis.
"People are afraid to go outside, but we have a lot of employees working long hours. There is a lot of courage and humanity out there. I respect them all so much," he said. "I've found how special the team is... It's amazing what I'm seeing out there."
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