Florence business starts producing masks to help stop coronavirus

On Point Manufacturing changed to producing masks in a matter of days.

Posted: Apr 1, 2020 1:53 PM
Updated: Apr 1, 2020 6:29 PM

A business in the Shoals is doing what it can to help supply the U.S. with cloth masks for citizens, most recently the CDC said having a cloth mask in public is better than nothing.

On Point Manufacturing (OPM) located in Florence normally produces women's clothing and other unique garments.

"We do beautiful coats for Austria. We made all the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra uniforms," said Kirby Best, the CEO and President of On Point Manufacturing.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic OPM changed their entire production line to make cloth, adjustable masks. Best said the idea to start making masks came from his employees.

"A whole bunch of people in here kept saying we need to be making masks," said Best. "We don't have the n-95 certification but we do make it out of our material that is all infused with silver so it's much better than a standard scarf."

Best showed WAAY31 how they've adapted their production lines to make masks. There are large cutting machines that take a big piece of material and cut the design into the cloth. Those pieces are then sent to sempstresses who assemble the parts. The masks are then checked for quality.

"This is the most sophisticated cut and sew operation in the world and we made the decision Thursday night on going into the masks. Saturday we changed everything over and Sunday we were in full production," said Best.

Florence fashion designer, Nicole Woodis, was at the company on Wednesday helping sew masks herself. She said to see people in the fashion industry step up and do what they can to help during this crisis is heart warming.

"The fact that people do come together and are willing to help out there just shows you there are a lot of hearts out there," said Woodis.

Best said the company is selling the masks wholesale for what it costs to make them. So his company is breaking even. One of the company's fabric supplies bought thousands of masks and will donate them to nursing homes throughout the U.S.

"We've got T-mobile that bought them for a lot of their stores and handing them out for customers and the employees in the store so there have been some neat uses for them," said Best.

Best told WAAY31 they are going to keep making the masks until the pandemic is over.

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