There are plenty of heroes amidst the Wuhan Virus pandemic, but not all of them are medical personnel or truckers. Some of them, like my brother-in-law and his employer, are just people who saw a crisis and decided to help.
In Pennsauken, DIY Media Group, which owns CD and DVD manufacturer Disc Makers, self-publishing company BookBaby, and t-shirt maker Merchly, has plans to shift its operations in support of the cause.
It was an opportunity born in crisis. With a broad ban on public gatherings, the touring musicians upon whose business Disc Makers typically relies weren’t placing orders. Production had fallen to about half of normal levels.
“We were doing all sorts of contingency planning,” said CEO Tony van Veen said. “We are a manufacturer; we can make stuff, let me figure out what. My wife turned to me and said, ‘Can’t you make these?’” van Veen said. “We can’t really sew, but how about these face shields?”
Mike has been working for Disc Makers since we graduated from college, and has learned the CD business from the ground up. Most of the people there are innovative, so the decision t pivot toward face shields is not a surprise.
The shields are designed to be reusable and can withstand cleaning with bleach, ammonia, or peroxide without streaking or discoloring, van Veen said; some components, like its Velcro straps and foam headband, are not necessarily capable of being sterilized.
You can never have too many face shields, especially while this virus is spreading. Every little bit helps.
Van Veen anticipates selling the face shields for less than $3 apiece in minimum quantities of 250. As the product evolves, he wants to lower its cost as much as possible, and expand applications for use by non-medical customers.
“I want to make sure that we sell them at a fair price so it covers my labor and my materials, and a little bit towards overhead and rent,” he said. “My goal is to help keep people safe, and help keep people in my facility employed.”
Disc Makers probably could have jacked the prices and made themselves a ton of money, but that’s never been what they’re about. One local news story suggested they may actually lose some money, but no one at Disc Makers is worrying about that now. They’d rather do the right thing.