Rovner Products Seeks To Relieve PPE Shortage In Maryland With Face Shield Donations

Mike Lawson • News • May 13, 2020

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Although Rovner Products’ production department has been idle since the end of March due to Governor Larry Hogan’s COVID-19 state mandate closing all non-essential businesses, in late April some of the company’s manufacturing equipment was redeployed.

Knowing they could figure out the production methodology, he and his wife, Rovner co-owner Lynn Reeder, immediately began searching the internet for materials they could use to build a prototype of a vinyl face shield.

“In March, stories of desperate medical workers were all over the news, and we realized we could use some of our manufacturing capabilities to help alleviate the dangerous shortage of PPE,” says Rovner president George Reeder. “To our surprise and frustration, raw goods were extremely difficult to find because of the already enormous demand,” says Lynn. “So we had to get creative.”

At her suggestion, they reached out to an upholsterer specializing in marine applications, who graciously agreed to supply the marine grade vinyl and double-stick tape they needed at his cost. After much trial and error (mostly error) prototyping with whatever materials they had on hand, more sleuthing finally yielded a source of foam to create a forehead bumper. And with the appropriate elastic too difficult to find in a timely manner or in the quantities needed, George discovered that the strapping used on shipping cartons was an excellent substitute, eliminating the need for staples.

“People have come up with all kinds of quick or homemade designs that may be basically functional but are not always attractive. We wanted our shields to be durable, reusable, and to look professional,” says George. “We wanted the recipients to feel supported, and to feel the love and gratitude we’re sending along with each face shield.”

Rovner employees helped create the parts, and the company is relying on additional eager-to-help volunteers to assemble the 3000 face shields they have begun to donate to their community.

“This is temporary for us,” says Lynn. “We didn’t want it to be a revenue stream, but a true reflection of the message we see all around us…that we’re all in this together. We just felt like this was a way we could show our gratitude to the people who are really stepping up.”

The Reeders plan to deliver the face shields wherever in their community the need is greatest.

“At first we’d thought mainly about local hospitals, but we’re finding that small businesses are also having difficulty outfitting their people with protective gear, either because it’s hard to find or because it puts an unexpected strain on their operating budgets.”

They plan to reach out to hard-hit local nursing homes, and other small businesses or healthcare organizations that must have close contact with the public. “I don’t think we’ll run out of places to donate in Maryland, but if we do, we’re happy to go farther afield to help wherever it is needed,” says George. The Reeders add that while this project has been emotionally gratifying, they are eagerly anticipating the day when they can get back to doing what they do best: manufacturing ligatures.

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