Local businesses pitching in to help make masks during coronavirus outbreak

PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WPVI) -- From companies that typically make CDs and DVDs to those that make parts for construction equipment, unconventional businesses are jumping in to help meet the need for face shields during the coronavirus crisis.

Rick Short, owner of USA Tractor Cabs, makes a living manufacturing pliable cab coverings for bulldozers and other industrial vehicles.

His business is considered "non-essential" and he was already scaling down operations when it dawned on him, he uses the same type of material needed for those clear, protective face coverings so desperately needed by more and more medical professionals.

Within 24 hours, he developed a prototype.

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Short says, "It's pretty neat that, like, you think you can do something and then you invent it, and we were like yes, I can do it. I can make a difference."

Donnie Gioia owns the plant where Short manufactures his products.

And Gioia says the fact that Rick's concept is not very complex has him believing that they will be cranking out masks by the thousands within a few days.

Gioia says, "Once you have the first two to go through the prototype and once it all works, then after that it's just, you cut. We can cut 250 here at a clip and on both tables, it's 300 a clip."

Meanwhile, Tony Van Veen, who manufactures compact discs in South Jersey, had a similar epiphany. Actually, it was his wife's epiphany.

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Van Veen says, "My wife says to me, 'Hey, can't you make some of this, there is such a need.' And so, I was like, 'Yeah, we are a manufacturer. We make stuff. Let's figure out what to do."

And both van Veen and Rick Short say the added benefit is that they can now avoid the need for layoffs, and keep their employees working, all while being part of the solution in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

Van Veen adds, "It's killing people, right? And so, if we can make a contribution to help with that, we are happy to do it."

Van Veen, Short, and the Gioia family are also emphasizing they are not profiteering off these products.

They will only be selling the masks for a bit more than the cost of production so they do not lose money.

Disc Makers is Pennsauken go into full production on Tuesday.

USA Tractor Cabs and Gioia Sails will start cranking out masks on Wednesday.
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