BREMEN, Ind.—When a regional hospital in Indiana put out a plea for personal protective equipment, the area business community got to work, including automotive sealing systems supplier Nishikawa Cooper L.L.C. (Nisco).
To get started, Jerry Chavez, the president and CEO of the Marshall County Economic Development Corp., said he began matching local manufacturing capabilities with medical needs. He learned Nisco has equipment to produce vehicle door components that also is used in the garment industry.
Chavez wondered if Nisco could produce protective gowns for medical staff and first responders on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak in Indiana.
The business development director contacted Leah Oden, the plant manager at Nisco's facility in Bremen about 20 miles outside of South Bend. She got the company's experts involved, namely Vice President of Engineering Chad Klopfenstein and Innovation Engineer Kevin O'Brien.
Chavez arranged a conference call between the regional hospital and Nisco. Two days later, the first gown was produced. Nisco engineers initially worked from a picture of a medical gown, according to Mike Esselburn, Nisco's human resources director.