U.S. companies continue to invest and pivot to expand domestic manufacturing and production of much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE).
The Chargeurs Group this week announced a significant investment to expand the company’s U.S. manufacturing footprint to reshore PPE manufacturing. The project will support Chargeurs’ newest division, U.S.-based Lainiere Health & Wellness, which will oversee the distribution, marketing and sales of all U.S.-manufactured PPE. This includes consumer-grade and medical-grade three-ply masks, as well as 95-level respirator masks.
The production will take place at the company’s Troy, Ohio, facility, Novacel Inc., which is creating more than 50 new jobs, prioritizing the hiring of military veterans.
“Chargeurs is highly committed to developing new industrial capacity in the U.S. and to contributing to the country’s ability to manufacture PPE domestically,” Michaël Fribourg, chairman and CEO of Chargeurs Group, said. “We are grateful to all of our U.S. teams for their own longstanding commitment to success and we will continue to invest in our American manufacturing capability in the coming years.”
When the Covid-19 pandemic revealed the risk of relying on foreign countries for PPE, Chargeurs began retrofitting part of its Troy manufacturing facility to help alleviate the domestic shortage of this critical equipment. The factory has begun with lines that can produce up to 2.5 million masks a month and will increase its production capacity in the coming months. Chargeurs also aims to produce Berry-compliant masks that meet the requirements of U.S. military and government contracts by the end of the year.
“Chargeurs has invested significant capital in retooling our Ohio factory to reshore production of PPE to America,” Angela Chan, CEO and president of Chargeurs PCC Fashion Technologies. “We have been supplying raw materials to the PPE market for years, so it made perfect sense to pivot to manufacturing these products in the USA, especially given the severe shortages of this equipment our country has seen since the start of the pandemic.”
Chargeurs is a France-based, family-owned diversified group operating in various businesses, including technical and performance textiles for the apparel and fashion industry, surface protection solutions, and business services and fabrication for the museum, cultural and entertainment sectors. In addition to its investment in the Novacel facility in Ohio, Chargeurs has invested in manufacturing technologies in a number of its other U.S. facilities, including Main Tape Company Inc. in New Jersey, Walco Inc. in California, Lainiere de Picardie Inc. in Pennsylvania, Design & Production Incorporated in Virginia and Chargeurs Wool USA Inc. in South Carolina.
Chargeurs PCC Fashion Technologies provides end-to-end solutions for fashion apparel brands by designing interlining, a technical fabric used to help garments retain their shape and structure. Novacel Inc. has provided high-end coated products for American industry for decades.
Meanwhile, StringKing, a sporting goods, custom-fit apparel and PPE manufacturer in Los Angeles, has won four Defense Logistics Agency contracts to produce 19 million disposable isolation gowns over the next year. In April, StringKing was leading a team of 1,200 people producing 140,000 cloth face masks per day in Los Angeles, partnering with contractor Unifire Inc., a U.S. manufacturer and distributor of fire, rescue, police and military equipment.
StringKing is directly producing 12 million gowns, while it has partnered with three garment manufacturers in Los Angeles to produce an additional 7 million gowns. In total, these contracts are creating an estimated 800 new jobs In Los Angeles.
“We want to expand the U.S. PPE manufacturing base and reduce America’s reliance on other countries in times of emergency,” StringKing CEO Jake McCampbell said. “This is the main reason we are partnering with additional manufacturers in Los Angeles. We are providing other companies the technologies that we’ve developed and guiding them through the quality control requirements for medical devices.”