MMI Textiles moves quickly to address America’s needs
Posted April 23, 2020
By Devin Steele (DSteele@eTextileCommunications.com)
Westlake, Ohio-based MMI Textiles, a converter of a wide range of textiles, moved quickly to address the need for PPE during this crisis, according to Geoff Senko, MMI’s national account manager.
“MMI made the decision to be as helpful as we could very early on in this pandemic,” he said. “Obviously, this took a great commitment of capital and time. We value our ability to be flexible with the different products we can produce. The textile world is a complex place of yarn spinners, weavers, finishers, nonwoven producers, etc., so MMI’s ability to tie all of this together is essential to supplying all our customers’ needs.”
During its pivot into PPE, the company has daily meetings with updates from its leadership on product offerings, lead times, performance characteristics, AAMI standards and more, he added.
“Our team came through with a 24/7 work ethic to be there for our customers’ needs and questions,” he said. “Simply put, leadership and teamwork have propelled us during this time.”
Most of MMI’s products are going to medical workers, but some of its customers are producing for consumers, as well, Senko reported.
“We had the pleasure to partner with a customer who was able to commit over 300,000 gowns to NYC health workers, and another who is making face shields for Ohio health,” he said. “We received a message that a cancer outpatient facility was able to open because they received gowns made from our raw materials from our customer!” [Watch video here of NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and MMI customer Gregg Thompson of Crye Precision, the latter of whom mentions MMI Textiles at 16:36 mark. MMI supplied Crye materials for the gowns they are producing for NYC frontline healthcare workers.]
According to Senko, the team is still learning – and learning quickly.
“The curve is still being drawn,” he said. “More than anything, everyone here at MMI loves our community, our first responders, our workers, our partners, our industry and America. Therefore, if there was any way we could be of help, we wouldn’t let anything get in our way. This is an industry wide effort. We couldn’t do any of this without our partners or customers.”
He added: “It is crazy times. I think everyone is just trying to stay as up to date as possible on requirements and keep their factories open and employees safe. When we receive these type of messages like the one mentioned – and there have been many – it’s rewarding to know we have a small role in helping this situation.”
MMI Textiles is fully staffed and working split shifts, he added. Half of its employees work from home and the other half of office staff is on a rotating schedule to adhere to CDC standards for social distancing. The company is maintaining typical office hours, but many of its employees are receiving calls at any time of day or night every day of the week, he said.
“Luckily, we have been expanding for the past few years and brought on a few new customer service and sales team members shortly before this took place,” he said. “Talk about getting thrown into the fire!”
The lack of supply of certain raw material substrates has been the most difficult part of the process, according to Amy Bircher, the company’s founder and president. SMS nonwoven material for gowns to meet Level 3 has been the most popular, and therefore requires the longest lead time. The company said it is looking for several alternative options to meltblown filtration and has a technical consultant on staff leading this endeavor, she said.
MMI Textiles also intends to implement a new stocking program for several PPE raw materials that it will offer well after the crisis is over, she noted.
“It is our intention to push for PPE to become a Berry (Amendment)-compliant product so that we don’t ever get our country into this situation again,” Bircher said.
Being involved in such an important endeavor is the right thing to do amid this global pandemic, Senko added.
“We thank our hospital staff workers around the country and everyone putting themselves in harm’s way,” he said. “Whatever we can do to get raw materials into garments to protect them, we’re doing it – and giving it our best. If we can help them, then we’re doing our job.”