As people around the world continue to respond to COVID-19, many of us see the videos and the images of the crisis and we wonder, “what can I do to help?”
Sean Gallinger is President, Summit Resource International (SRI), a Caterpillar licensee based in Bozeman, Montana. For him, what he saw really hit home. “I’m not on social media and my wife is showing me these stories of people sewing masks and a guy making them with a 3D printer and all the shortages and it seemed to me like there was a real disconnect,” Gallinger said. “I thought, if big cities can’t get masks, where does that leave Montana? I don’t know how to sew and I don’t own a 3D printer, but there’s got to be something that we can do.”
Sean and his SRI team quickly realized that creating additional medical personal protective equipment (PPE masks) was a clear way to contribute.
“The way we looked at it, we had 90 percent of the skillset on how to get PPE into the country, said Sean Gallinger. “What we didn’t have was a factory, because we’d never done medical personal protective equipment before.”
So, the team went to work.
First, SRI considered how to source material for their masks from an approved fabric mill with FDA certification. Because SRI regularly produces items like high visibility vests and gear that’s flame retardant, the team was familiar with the regulations behind dozens of components from fabric lining to zippers.
They knew how to find and audit the right factories that could produce compliant products and move product from overseas quickly. Through pre-existing business relationships, SRI quickly secured production capacity of more than a million masks per week.
Then, SRI started investigating local hospital needs, which eventually led them to connecting with the state health department. Within a week, they were able to deliver more than 15,000 masks to medical workers in Montana and Wyoming.
“We were able to use our company’s values to be nimble and find a solution to an urgent need that was there and that’s kind of how we got behind it,” Gallinger said. “It was our supply chain, our freight forwarder, people in the office breaking shipments down into smaller packers for delivery. Everyone was pitching in.”
Upon learning of this, Caterpillar reached out to SRI to see what they could do to support Cat employees who continue to build the products customers need and others who would soon be returning to work. SRI was able to deliver 250,000 reusable, washable, anti-microbial masks in just a few weeks. All of this happened because people just wanted to help.
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