Chinook Enterprises and Eddyline Kayaks have answered the call to switch from manufacturing their usual products to making personal protective equipment for those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two are making protective face shields that are being purchased and distributed by the Skagit Rotary Club to local nursing homes, senior and pediatric care facilities, and health care organizations.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Chinook Enterprises CEO Steve Reed said. “The Skagit Rotary Club has been fantastic.”
It’s a win-win for all involved as both Eddyline and Chinook production personnel continue to work, and protective face shields are available to those who need them.
Chinook Enterprises is a Mount Vernon social enterprise company that supports those with disabilities.
“The people we serve have been impacted by more than 75% unemployment during this pandemic,” Reed said. “The money we can produce on face shields will turn back into community-supported employment. It’s a great circle of support.”
Eddyline Kayaks made the first face shield last week and assembled the first 500 of what will be its total run of 1,000.
“It was pretty simple for us to get things going,” said Scott Holley of Eddyline Kayaks, which is based in Burlington. “We didn’t use any of our heavy equipment and then we did the assembly of the face shields.”
It took Eddyline about six hours to assemble and package the first 500 face shields.
“It was a high-quality process by a team used to working together,” Holley said. “They worked very well on the assembly of the face shields.”
Chinook Enterprises is taking over the local face shield production for the foreseeable future, ramping up production for the eventuality of providing face shields to those in need outside of Skagit County.
Reed said making the switch to producing face shields wasn’t a big deal.
“We do a lot of work for Boeing,” he said. “We do a lot of cut-to-length components and this (producing face shields) fits what we do.”
Face shields are made from clear vinyl, similar to what is used to mimic windows on boat covers. The visor and frame come prefabricated.
“It comes to us as rolls of vinyl,” Reed said of the shield material. “We roll it out and cut it to length. We put it on our CNC (computer numerical controlled) machine and cut it out. Then we sanitize and bag to make it easy to ship.”
Reed added the company plans to produce 500 to 1,000 face shields per week.
“It fits what we do,” he said. “Of course, locating the materials is becoming more and more of a challenge.”
The Skagit Rotary Club will continue to distribute the finished products while looking for other clubs to join in.
“We encourage other Rotary Clubs to purchase boxes of face shields from Chinook Enterprises to donate to health care workers in their own communities,” said Skagit Rotary President Joe Lindquist.
So far, the arrangement between Rotary, Eddyline and Chinook has gone well.
“This is a win-win-win for our community,” Skagit Rotarian Amelia Cook said. “Chinook Enterprises will be able to keep their employees working during this economic crisis while contributing to (fighting) the global health crisis.”