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Flooring company creating personal protective equipment for healthcare workers

'These 300 gowns that are going to Emory today, I know they’re going on somebody’s back this afternoon, and that’s a great thing.”

ATLANTA — A local flooring company has redirected its production to make personal protective equipment for healthcare workers on the front lines.

Mohawk Flooring, headquartered in Calhoun, Georgia, is the world’s largest flooring company. Over the past 10 days, they turned two production facilities that usually make bath rugs into manufacturing warehouses for critical sets of PPE.

So far, the facilities in Dalton and Calhoun have made 10,000 face shields and 5,000 gowns. The company said they’re on track to make 400,000 total units over the next six weeks.

“We’re just trying to help. The real heroes are in the hospitals risking their lives every day,” Bart Hill said, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Operations.

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Hill said making medical supplies is out of their comfort zone, but they partnered with a local fabric company, Fabric Sources International, to make the gowns.

“We had a fabric supplier with nothing to do with it. I had a cut and sew facility with sewing expertise and the know-how to get these gowns together, and probably the third thing is the heart and want from all of our employees to say ‘let’s just figure out how to do it,’” Hill said.

Police officers in Calhoun have already been using the face shields. The company has also delivered the PPE to local hospitals in Dalton and Calhoun and to local municipalities for police, fire, and EMS use. Hill said they’ve also received requests from nursing homes and senior living facilities.

“We were going to just to 50 for the local hospital, but then it grew,” Hill said. “We think we can get up to about 5,000 a day. The sad thing is that’s just a drop in the bucket of the need that’s out there. I wish we could make 50,000 a day because the supply chain is still totally disrupted.”

RELATED: Gwinnett County textile company donates thousands of face masks to local hospitals

Tuesday, they delivered 300 medical gowns to Emory Hospital in Atlanta. The hospital has been guiding them on the design. Hill said they’ve given feedback that the gowns they make are thicker than what they normally wear, which is a good thing in this environment.

“These 300 that are going to Emory today, I know they’re going on somebody’s back this afternoon, and that’s a great thing,” he said.

For Mohawk, it’s keeping 50-60 people at work who would otherwise have very little to do.  

“This is not something we had ever done before. We just tried to pivot into something that could help. Our traditional business had kind of slowed down a little bit. We sell into the retail business that has a lot of closures, so it was a nice way that we could keep our workers working,” Hill said.

Hill said even businesses that are usually competitors called up to ask how they could help, so Mohawk shared their design.

“Traditional business just went by the wayside and we all as an industry, as a state, as a country came together and said put everything aside. We’ve got to figure out how to help these guys,” Hill said.

Hill says they’ll all be ready for the day the get out of the medical equipment manufacturing business, but he says for now, their motto is “if you can’t do what you do, do what you can.”

“Right now when that supply is so short, we’re literally every day getting up and saying ‘what can we do?’ and ‘how can we help?’ Let’s see how many of these things we can churn out,” Hill said. 

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information. 

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information.

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