American Leather Hospitality would typically be producing close to 1,000 pieces of residential and event furniture in a single day in April. Now, the Dallas-based company has shifted gears to make medical masks and gowns to assist in the nation’s quest to stop COVID-19’s spread.
“Times have changed, in demand and for society,” says Frank Boardman, AIA, vice president of American Leather Hospitality.
Company employees, all on a volunteer basis, have been making between 10,000 and 20,000 masks and 4,000-5,000 gowns per week since the end of March. All are shipped to FEMA-selected locations and Baylor University Hospital, near American Leather’s Dallas headquarters.
This is just one example of companies across the events industry doing their part for the greater good. In American Leather’s case, it was a matter of asking government agencies what they could do. FEMA responded with the need for gowns.
Within a week, American Leather factories in Texas and North Carolina were transformed into mask-and-gown production centers, complete with training for workers’ experiences in creating furniture. The medical equipment is made according to the CDC guidelines—no remnant fabric is used. Quality control techniques, including redundant checks, were carry-overs from furniture protocols.
Beyond reconfiguring the lines, American Leather adapted its spacing to ensure workers were not close to one another. “It looked like an empty factory but it was social distancing,” Boardman says.
Boardman adds the employees’ eagerness to help is inspirational. “It’s extremely admirable of workers and people to be so dedicated to American Leather and dedicated to America,” he says.