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Posted on April 13, 2020
AIM member 99 Degrees Custom, a Lawrence-based manufacturer of sportswear, normally takes up to 18 months to develop a new product.
But in the face of COVID-19, the 150-person company pivoted in three weeks from making apparel to making FDA-compliant isolation gowns desperately needed by medical providers and first responders throughout the commonwealth.
“We’re proud to be a US manufacturer,” CEO Brenna Nan Schneider said during Governor Charlie Baker’s daily COVID-19 press conference.
Scheider praised the help her company received from the state’s Manufacturing Emergency Response Team, established to help manufacturers explore the opportunity to make personal protective equipment. The response team helped 99 Degrees learn a new industry, establish a supply chain and secure regulatory approval in a matter of days instead of years.
99 Degrees, a former winner of the AIM Next Century Award, initially intended to make medical masks but shifted to isolation gowns because of the need and the fit with its current capabilities.
The company purchased new machines and is set to begin producing one million isolation gowns for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. It will then look to distribute the gowns more widely.
Governor Baker said Manufacturing Emergency Response team, co-chaired by AIM-member Michael Tamasi of Accurounds in Avon, has received inquiries from approximately 400 manufacturing companies since the state put out a call for protective gear. Beyond advice, the response team is offering $10.6 million in grant to help manufacturing companies re-tool.
Schneider said she is grateful for the opportunity to help medical and emergency professionals risking their lives to help others.
“We are doing everything within our power to keep you safe,” she said.