Kalamazoo company cranks out face shields for hospitals

KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan company has made more than 2 million face shields since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Total Plastics International says it can make between 50,000 to 60,000 each day at its plant just outside Kalamazoo.

A face shield made at Total Plastics International near Kalamazoo. (April 20, 2020)

According to Tom Garrett, president of the company, Total Plastics used to provide only the material and cut the plastic for face shields but saw the need to do more to get the protective equipment to front-line medical workers.

“When we first recognized the demand for the fully assembled shields, we partnered with a company to actually add the other components to make a fully functional assembled shield,” Garrett said.

A stack of plastic ready to be made into face shields at Total Plastics International. (April 20, 2020)

The coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented demand at a rapid pace.

“Activity has been crazy the last two, three weeks. Orders with accounts we’ve never done business with, over 100 new customers,” Garrett said.

Total Plastics is also giving back to its West Michigan home base. The company was founded in Kalamazoo in 1978 and now owns 17 facilities in 10 states. It also has a plant in metro Grand Rapids that is producing face shields.

“One of the companies that we partnered with in Grand Rapids was Haworth and we made a donation to Spectrum Hospital of not just face shields but also some protective boxes for their patients,” Garrett said.

The manufacturer can even provide custom-built barriers for essential workers.

A worker at Total Plastics International. (April 20, 2020)

“Any place you normally have people very close to each other, everybody is looking for a way to be able to create some isolation and a protective barrier,” Garrett said.

The work is keeping the plant running while it helps medical professionals on the front lines.

“It has made it a lot easier for the folks to come to work knowing that they’re providing a critical need,” Garrett said.

He said his company has the capacity to increase production if needed.

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