Alene Candles has temporarily halted its candle-making and is now in the process of manufacturing thousands of face shields for medical professionals in New Hampshire and Maine.
“I don’t know that any of us imagined a circumstance like we are in now,” said Rod Harl, president and CEO of Alene Candles in Milford.
As first responders and health care facilities throughout the nation continue seeking personal protective equipment in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harl said his company could not sit by quietly. Alene Candles explored different ways to assist, and ultimately determined that it could produce plastic face shields to protect doctors, nurses and other health care providers.
“Our engineers worked on procedures on how to do the assembly, so everyone had clear work instructions. It did take a little bit of hands-on training for our supervisors, but once we had it going they were able to engage in the manufacturing process,” Harl said on Tuesday.
The Milford facility is utilizing a face shield design from Johns Hopkins University, and has secured raw materials from Thermoformed Plastics of New England in Biddeford, Maine, which has donated the supplies. Production began Monday at Alene Candles.
However, the company ran out of some necessary supplies and was forced to wait until Tuesday afternoon to resume its assembly line once additional supplies arrived. It expects to donate 10,000 face shields next week to emergency workers and health professionals in New Hampshire and Maine.
As Alene Candles continues to pay its employees even though production of candles has stopped, Harl said about 20 workers arrived on Monday to volunteer their services to make the face shields. Knowing there is a critical shortage of personal protective equipment, several employees want to help out and do something for the greater good of the community, he said.
Joshua Rowsey, a process technician at Alene Candles, said his fiancé currently works as a health unit coordinator in the emergency room at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua; both of her parents, who are retired from the medical field, are now back at work.
This face shield project allows me to give back as well,” said Rowsey, adding he was ready to get out of the house.
I've been home from work for a week and I was getting bored,” he said. “I’ve finished the projects I had to complete at home. This was a good opportunity to get back to work.”