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Supply Chain
COVID-19 diagnosis

Plastics Workers Unsung Heroes in Battle against COVID-19

Shuttering a plastics facility, even if it is not intuitively obvious how that plant fits into the global health supply chain, could inadvertently impact our ability to fight and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

First, thank you to the 10,000+ people who liked and shared a shorter version of this article on LinkedIn at the end of last week so we could start getting the word out. This is a chance to elaborate and expand on what I was talking about.

Last week, Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania ordered the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses in the state. Fortunately, the governor allowed plastics and rubber products manufacturing to continue operations. California previously had ordered the shutdown of non-essential businesses; since then, New York and New Jersey have joined that list. This is happening so fast that I’m sure there will be others by the time you read this.Tom Bolger, CEO of Chroma Color Corp., is concerned that the states are moving so rapidly, and for the most part independently, that not every governor might reach the same conclusion. Shuttering a plastics facility, even if it is not intuitively obvious how that plant fits into the global health supply chain, could inadvertently impact our ability to fight and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Chroma is making materials that go into pulse oxygen sensors, blood-monitoring equipment, and packaging for pharmaceuticals, hand sanitizers, and sanitizing wipes,” Bolger told me. He pointed out that most plastics companies have a place in that supply chain. “I am personally reaching out to local and state level officials across the country to consider plastics processors ‘essential businesses’ as they make difficult decisions to protect the nation’s health,” he added.

Another critical plastics company in the fight is SencorpWhite, a maker of thermoforming machines. It is working with Honeywell to expedite shipment of three thermoformers that will allow for the immediate production of more than one billion face masks. SencorpWhite’s CEO Brian Urban told me, “The first machine has been shipped and the second is almost ready. It has been ‘all-hands-on-deck’ for us the past few weeks. I couldn’t be prouder of our team and its dedication.”

I’m reminded of a corny line my mother told me a long time ago. She would say, “Bad things happen to good people, but good people also happen to bad things.” We have a lot of leaders stepping up right now — Tom Bolger and Brian Urban are just two examples of many thousands. The men and women going to work every day at plastics companies are keeping our supply chain open, helping to slow the spread of this disease, and saving lives. You can help, too, simply by sharing this article on social media and with your local and state officials. In so many ways, the country and the world need our industry right now, and we are stepping up.

Thank you.

About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. He writes a weekly column for PlasticsToday called "Talent Talk." If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for that blog, e-mail Paul at paul@klaindustries.com

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