March 26, 2020 – Asheville, NC – Outdoor Gear Builders (OGB), a nonprofit business association made up of Western North Carolina-based outdoor industry companies committed to cultivating, connecting and supporting a community of outdoor industry leaders, is proud to share the news that many of its members are working on the frontlines to support the healthcare industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past 8 days, OGB member and premium cycling apparel manufacturer Kitsbow experienced requests from throughout the United States and Western NC for its Face Shield for first responders and medical providers. In just 48 hours, Kitsbow switched over all production from apparel to producing face masks and shields for first responders and other healthcare workers. Since they announced the switch last week, demand for the Face Shield went from 23,000 to over 100,000 units per week. To help meet this urgent need, they reached out to bike wheelset and component manufacturer Industry Nine, who was able to develop a better method for manufacturing the Face Shield, sourcing the raw materials and helping with production. By working together alongside brands Watershed and Oowee, assisting with cutting, the companies will be able to produce 10,000 Face Shields a day.
David Billstrom, CEO at Kitsbow said “Clint (Industry Nine’s Founder) simply came over first thing Monday morning and started helping; no paperwork, no proposals, just getting together and developing a better solution by tweaking the design and enabling us to work together to manufacture more of them in a shorter period of time.”
Another OGB member, Sylvan Sport, manufacturer of outdoor gear and travel trailers, has also been working with state and local officials to help during this crisis. They’ve switched over their manufacturing focus during this time to produce thousands of face shields for healthcare workers and have been able to tap into their international supply chain to source hundreds of thousands of N95 masks and thousands of Tyvek suits for local and state distribution. Additionally, they have offered up their Rapidly Deployable Mobile Shelters to be used for emergency shelters for health facilities and the homeless.
“With our manufacturing, design and engineering capabilities, we are capable of quickly meeting the needs of this changing landscape,” states Kyle Mundt, VP of New Product Development of Sylvan Sport and Vice Chair of the OGB Board.
Other brands are joining in to support the community at-large, including local tent and outdoor gear manufacturer Diamond Brand Gear, who is working with the Carolina Textile District to be the cutter and sewer of needed PPE once they have secured their supply chain and patterns. Diamond Brand Gear is also offering their Wall Tents for Rapidly Deployable Mobile Shelters for emergency use as needed. Local tee-shirt company Recover is also selling Support Local tees to raise money to support local small businesses in Western NC. For each shirt they sell, they will donate $10 to their small business partners.
“Times like these require us to pull together as a community,” says Matt Godfrey, Board Chair of the Outdoor Gear Builders. “The Outdoor Gear Builders has always been about collaborating and supporting each other and our community. We’re hoping this outpouring of support for our healthcare system will allow us to protect those working on the frontlines of this pandemic.”
For more information, please reach out to the individual companies or to Angie Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Outdoor Gear Builders
The Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC are Western North Carolina-based companies collaborating to share talents, encourage new ideas and inspire each other. Member brands are dedicated to creating exceptional outdoor gear with a focus on responsible manufacturing, cutting edge innovation and economic growth in our region. The OGB’s motto is: “Extraordinary Gear Made Here.” Learn more at outdoorgearbuilders.com or join the conversation at facebook.com/OutdoorGearBuildersOfWnc/