The COVID-19 outbreak has had a profound impact on businesses, with much of the economic activity in the country grinding to halt. It has also highlighted the flexibility and responsiveness of the promotional products industry, as many industry companies have quickly reoriented to supply needed protective equipment for both the medical community and everyday life.

Lindon, Utah-based supplier Rustico (PPAI 260879, S5) specializes in handmade leather goods. However, with skilled artisans, pertinent suppliers and almost all necessary machinery on-hand, the company has restructured workstations and processes to meet the increased demand for face masks.

“Rustico is known for our handcrafted leather notebooks and journals,” says Rustico Founder and CEO, Isaac Childs. “We have been making and creating leather goods since 2001 and we love what we do. When COVID-19 occurred in March, like most small businesses, we knew we needed to adapt in order to make it through this worldwide pandemic.”

Rustico was approached to complete a large-scale project that required hundreds of thousands of face masks to be crafted. In order to produce this kind of volume, it has expanded the size of its production team as well as the type and quantity of machinery. In a time when layoffs have been widespread, Rustico has been hiring. Matt Shurtleff, Rustico’s director of product development, says that with proper adjustments in place, the company’s goal is to yield about 20,000 masks per day.

“We knew we could make the transition,” Childs says. Doing so will “help support hospitals with needs for face masks and support our employees during this difficult time.”

Supplier AAkron Line (PPAI 111082, S10) in Akron, New York, has begun producing face shields after waiting nearly a full month for proper certification from the federal government. The new face shields are immediately available to state and federal first responders, and will be available to promotional distributors next week.

“We immediately began to look at the whole spectrum of PPE products to see where and how we could use our manufacturing expertise to help in the COVID-19 fight. We have also seen firsthand numerous products that are available with no certification or documentation, so we felt very strongly that whatever we did had to be done to the highest standards,” says Devin Piscitelli, CEO and co-owner of AAkron Line.

AAkron’s face shield is a FDA Listed Device and has passed ANSI testing. The tests conducted and passed are ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2015-Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices – Full Requirement, and ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2015-Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices – Droplets and Splashes. The face shields are the second item AAkron Line has introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the company introduced its new face mask ear-saver, a USA-made, latex-free, thermoplastic rubber that allows the face masks’ elastic bands to be comfortably hooked together to prevent rubbing behind the ears.

Boca Terry (PPAI 254386, S3), a supplier based in Deerfield Beach, Florida, typically produces robes and towels for the hospitality, medical and promotional products industries. It began producing disposable face masks in mid-March, when the company realized there would be a need. Like Rustico and AAkron Line, the items it has produced in response to the coronavirus are also available in the promotional products market.

Find more reports on the industry’s COVID-19 response, PPE resources, provisions of the CARES Act, links to related webinars and further information on PPAI’s coronavirus information page here.