Central NC businesses repurposing due to COVID-19, putting people back to work in the process

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HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. (WNCN) – Making protective gear for front-line pandemic workers is putting people in North Carolina back to work.

ASI Signage designs and manufactures interior and exterior signs at their Holly Springs facility. Recently, though, the company announced a contract to make personal protective equipment.

“We realized really quickly with our operation here we could re-purpose — pivot, if you want to think of it that way — our manufacturing to be able to make face shields and make large quantities in short periods of time,” said senior sales executive John Dalpe.

The company is able to not only keep current staff working on making signs, but it also hired additional employees to make face shields.

“It’s nice to have someone who is pushing through being successful in horrible times,” said President Silas Bass. “The success story is really great here; keeping our current staff fully employed, as well as bringing in others to help with the manufacturing. And, at the end, knowing that we’re helping our front line people.”

“It allowed us to hire 20 furloughed or unemployed people in the area and bring them in. So, we set up a process where we could manage, and manufacture, and assemble the face shields right here in the plant. We’re able to run both operations simultaneously” Dalpe added.

ASI Signage initiated the conversation with state leaders. The company was able to ramp up production of the gear after it found materials that are in short supply.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said other contracted companies include Saab Barracuda in Lillington. It normally produces camouflage netting for the military. There’s also Apple Rock in Greensboro. It usually makes trade show displays and other graphic products. Both are now producing isolation gowns.

Gilero in Pittsboro and Bright View Technologies in Durham are making face shields. The state also has a contract with Charlotte-based Honeywell for a monthly delivery of 100,000 N-95 respiratory masks. That contract will result in 4.2 million masks.

“I think the innovative spirit of what we’ve tried to put forward here is something that we hope is contagious not only for us, but for the entire region,” Bass said. “I think that this problem of COVID. It’s a virus, of course, but it’s really slowed our economy down. I think how we’re going to get out of it long term is definitely through innovation; all of us doing things that we didn’t know we were going to be doing going forward.”

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