NEWMARKET, Ontario—AirBoss of America Corp. may suspend production of automotive components at its engineered products business in Auburn Hills, Mich., until at least March 30. This consideration comes in response to North American auto makers' decision to suspend production during that same time frame.
The Newmarket-based company also is taking cost-containment measures and looking at certifying the facility for defense products to minimize sales losses, which could be as much as $2.5 million a week in the event of a full closure.
The Auburn Hills site also could be used to mold products to support a contract recently awarded to the company's defense group.
AirBoss has three business units: engineered products, which supplies anti-vibration products to the North American automotive market; defense products, which produces protective shelters and gear; and rubber solutions, which offers compounding and calendered and extruded products for a broad range of applications.
To date, AirBoss' rubber solutions business is operating with capacity utilization and output at similar levels to those seen in prior months. However, the company said, it is monitoring the situation closely after getting feedback from customers in the tire sector that suggests a potential reduction in requested volumes in the immediate near-term.
AirBoss' defense group is fully operational at this time. Its business outlook remains strong with increased interest in certain product lines, such as protective shelters and patient isolation pods, demand for which grows as COVID-19 spreads.
Globally, the company said, health care customers and governments are considering disease-containment options using AirBoss' mass decontamination shelters and patient transfer systems. Branded as Iso-Pod, the negative-pressure system can be used to isolate and transport individual patients while keeping the disease inside the unit to protect first responders, while allowing life-saving medical procedures.
The isolation pods were designed with input from doctors and emergency personnel, and were used extensively during the Ebola and MERS crises. The units are easy to store and deploy with setup taking less than two minutes.
To keep its own employees safe, AirBoss has ramped up cleaning and hygiene procedures at all facilities; canceled all non-essential travel; encouraged employees to work from home where possible; and is taking precautions with visitors to its facilities.
"The long-term health and well being of our employees, customers, their families and the broader communities in which we operate is our primary concern," Chris Bitsakakis, AirBoss president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. "We continue to closely monitor the situation, taking into account the latest advice from public health officials, as well as the specific and evolving needs of our customers. We believe AirBoss' long-standing relationships with key customers, reputation for quality compounds and products, and solid balance sheet position us well to successfully navigate this global threat in partnership with each of our stakeholders."