Vermont Glove retools to make masks

Published: Apr. 1, 2020 at 4:28 PM EDT
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Countless businesses are shuttered right now to comply with stay-at-home orders, but one Randolph company that's stayed open has retooled to meet a critical need.

Vermont Glove has been in Vermont for 100 years, but right now the old machines normally used to cut leather are cutting cotton.

"We are used to making leather gloves and not cotton masks," said Sam Hooper, the company's owner. He says glove sales were going down because of the coronavirus, and to keep the lights on, the family-run business made a change. "We are able to pivot. We don't have a board we have to clear everything with."

Face masks are in critical need across the country and are considered an essential business. "We saw the opportunity to try to help out in a time of need for the industry that is in a shortage," Wood said.

Mark McKerley is working alone to cut the fabric. "Well, it's good to do our part," he said.

The cut out fabric is then picked up by over 70 people who are a mix of employees, temporary workers, and volunteers who work from home.

"You can see this is the liner," pointed out Morgan Easton. The Braintree woman has been working from home to sew them together. "What I bring back is this finished product."

The straps are then sewed back on at a different level of the factory. Thousands of masks are sanitized and then sent out all over the country. The washable masks are being used privately and even by hospitals and law enforcement. They are being sold for $5 each so they can pay their employees and the bills.

"We are not really making a profit but we are making sure we are being made whole," Wood said.

They follow the CDC guidelines, but they are not FDA regulated. Some people are wearing their Vermont Glove mask over their N95 masks and some are just wearing it as protection. "When N95 masks are exhausted, wearing something is better then nothing," Wood said.

Vermont Glove says the plan is to make more masks with sub-micro filtration material that is certified for health care use.