Toronto furniture company is now making thousands of face masks
As president of Request For Product, a custom furniture company whose main clients are hotels and restaurants, Andrew Moretti was worried when the province-wide shutdown of nonessential businesses went in place mid-March.
Moretti’s business, which had been growing steadily year after year, came to an abrupt stop. “Our projects just in a week went on hold,” he says, because his clients halted their operations.
Facing a loss of 80 per cent of his business, the entrepreneur re-branded his company as Canada Mask Supply, shifting focus to producing protective face masks at his Mississauga facility.
Today, Moretti and his team produce a total of 20,000 masks per day.
So far, this has allowed Moretti not just the ability to keep his company afloat, but also to keep all 40 of his employees working while also adding 35 new jobs.
Concern for his employees, Moretti says, was the primary motivating factor in Request For Production’s pivot in production.
“I sprung to action because it's my responsibility to take care of my people,” Moretti said.
“My company is only what it is because of the amazing craftsmen and staff that we have. [...] They put so much pride and joy into their work that when this crisis hit, the first thing I realized was, ‘Hey, my people matter and I need to take care [of them]’.”
Request For Product’s facility was uniquely positioned for producing non-medical masks.
“I went on the CDC's website and they had posted a pattern to make a mask and they also listed all the specs,” Moretti said. “After reading the specs, I immediately went, ‘Oh gosh, I know this material.’”
He encountered the word polypropylene on the CDC’s site, and after a look through his files he realized one of his suppliers sells the plastic. Moretti engaged the supplier in a discussion about medical-grade polypropylene on March 22, and by March 24 he received it.
He and his team then worked with the mask pattern provided by the CDC and after a training process for his staff that lasted two days, Moretti was selling the masks through a newly-relaunched site.
By March 25 he was receiving orders. “The orders immediately picked up,” he said.
The masks Canada Mask Supply manufactures, while made of medical-grade polypropylene, are primarily for “everyday folk who are looking for some personal perfection,” Moretti said. This allows us to leave the medical-grade masks for the frontline workers who are experiencing the shortage in PPE.
“So the people that are purchasing from us are companies that are still operating,” he said. Essential businesses such as grocery stores, meat processing plants, and even a vegetable growing association are purchasing masks for their employees, Moretti said.
Likewise, his employees’ safety was of Moretti's utmost concern from the get-go. “We knew that if we were going to do this, we had to invest in some really well-thought-out health and safety protocols,” he said.
Employees in the facility are spaced out to observe social distancing on the workfloor, their temperatures are monitored everyday to check for variances, and in addition to implementing the wearing of hairnets, masks, and gloves, the facility has in place a strict hand-washing and sanitizing policy, with sanitization stations placed throughout.
Moretti says he knows his employees are proud of the work they’re doing because they know they’re playing an important role in providing for a need and in supporting others during this pandemic, all while feeling secure in their employment.
“We're really trying to do our best in terms of keeping Canadians working,” he said.
Canada Mask Supply
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