Textile and Furniture Manufacturers Transition Production to Meet COVID-19 Medical Equipment Needs

March 25, 2020

A group of manufacturers and nonprofits, led by the Carolina Textile District (CTD), are transitioning their production to prototype and produce medical supplies in response to a request from healthcare providers during the COVID-19 crisis.

On Monday the CTD launched a link on the organization’s website to handle the intake of demand from healthcare providers and intake of manufacturers that are willing to assist in the production process and provide supplies. In one day, over 60 manufacturers have signed on to help. In total there are over 600 sewers available and ready to produce.

This week, the organizations are working to secure supplies, standardize patterns and tech packs, develop sew kits, source shipping materials and begin producing masks. They are also coordinating with County economic developers and several statewide organizations including the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), the NC State Industry Expansion Solutions (IES) and the Manufacturing Solutions Center (MSC).

The mills, manufacturers, and nonprofit partners are collaborating to shift production from apparel and furniture to produce both masks and gowns which, if scaled, could lead to the production of hundreds of thousands of personal protection equipment (PPE) items to be used by healthcare professionals on the frontlines. The group is currently creating covers for NIOSH-approved N95 respirators to extend their use.

The CTD is staging a 20,000 sq. ft. distribution facility at EJ Victor, a Morganton, N.C. based, high-end furniture company. The facility will be used as a centralized location to store and stage raw materials and supplies, distribute production kits and collect finished masks.

Those interested in shifting their production can find more information here. Developments are happening quickly and updates will be made to this link on a regular basis.

The CTD is a member-governed and driven network of values-aligned textile manufacturers in North and South Carolina and beyond. The group, governed by 15 Members, has shifted their years of experience aggregating demand and coordinating production to help supply the medical industry during this crisis. While the 15 Members govern the CTD, there are a total of 80 cut and sew factories involved with the organization.

“We’ve organized these companies for the past 10 years and are ready for this,” said CTD founder, Molly Hemstreet. “We are working to scale quickly over the next week to be able to meet the incredible need and demand.”

The CTD, which is an enterprise of The Industrial Commons, was formed in 2013 to help brands connect to and build out a U.S. supply chain. Over the past seven years, the company has helped over 2,000 entrepreneurs through workshops, contacts, and resources. The members of CTD, which are located primarily in North and South Carolina, have over 250 employees collectively and are invested in creating a new and dynamic textile industry that values the worker, the environment and the community. The group also has the most comprehensive database of textile manufacturers, mills and suppliers in the country with nearly 600 companies in the database.