As one of the few remaining manufacturers in the US, Mitch Cahn & Unionwear is trying to fill the void left by all of the cost-cutting, outsourcing companies that have contributed to our crippled supply chain for lifesaving healthcare products, including personal protection equipment. They have turned a factory that was gearing up to make baseball hats for the Olympics, the US Census, and presidential campaigns into a facility making face shields & isolation gowns for frontline healthcare workers.
source: The Righteous Capitalists
Mitch tells us how, a month ago, orders for political campaign hats and items evaporated as the Democratic presidential field consolidated. So, Unionwear needed to pivot and they started calling hospitals to find out how they might be able to help by making personal protective equipment (PPE) to help in the Covid-19 crisis.
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Under normal circumstances, Unionwear is the leading manufacturer of union, made-in-USA headwear, bags, accessories, work wear and safety gear. 2020 was shaping up to be a great year for the New Jersey-based company – between the presidential campaign, the Olympics, the US Census and other events, Unionwear’s employees would be busy all year.
But when the Democratic presidential campaign abruptly ended and the coronavirus pandemic arrived, circumstances became anything but normal.
“A lot of our jobs were canceled,” says Mitch Cahn, Unionwear President. “We do a lot of event merchandise, and a lot of events were canceled and some of our military projects were scaled back to make funds available for emergency relief.”
Like many companies coping with the challenge of operating with mandated social distancing amid sharply reduced economic activity, Unionwear quickly went from trying to keep up with orders while working at full capacity to not having much to do at all. The company cut their staff, sent workers home and tried to figure out how to succeed in a world changed by COVID-19.
Then they decided that they needed to come up with a new business model to carry them through the crisis.
The pandemic created a huge demand for personal protection equipment (PPE) to keep front-line health care workers, law enforcement and essential employees safe. Unionwear not only wanted to shift production to keep operating but also to make a difference.
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A healthy relationship between company and union has been the driving force in getting health care providers more and more personal protective equipment when it is needed most.
Unionwear, a Newark-based company that is known for its production of hats, backpacks and binders, has quickly shifted its focus to creating face shields and surgical gowns.
Workers United has been reaching out to companies who could provide needs for those on the front lines in combatting the coronavirus, ensuring their employees are still working.
In uncertain times, it was a perfect match.
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Mitch Cahn of Unionwear was featured in a new series called NJPAC Business Partners @ Home. These interviews will offer virtual conversations with executives leading their businesses in creative, effective and useful ways in the fight against the pandemic.
The first video conversation features three Newark business leaders who’ve rapidly pivoted from producing their traditional wares to manufacturing the vital materials—masks, sanitizer, medical face shields, isolation gowns—needed by front-line medical workers.
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