As the coronavirus hit Vermont, Concept2 did several things. First, we made a rapid transition to working from home, for all staff who could do it. Our IT team made sure people had the phone connections and remote access they would need to do this. A few essential people stayed at the building to keep it safe, and to maintain the minimum level of receiving and shipping to prevent things from backing up.
Not long after we did this, our Governor issued an official “Stay at Home, Stay Safe” order, which confirmed the steps we had taken. That order, which also required non-essential businesses to shut down, has since been extended, so production is still on hold.
The next thing that came to mind was “How can Concept2 help?” We quickly realized that the strongest assets we could bring to the problem might be our reliable parts suppliers in Asia and our experienced shipping logistics contacts here in the US. For many years, we have sourced certain erg components in Asia, although we continue to assemble machines in the US, and many of our parts are manufactured right here in Vermont.
Trevor Braun, one of our engineers, began reaching out to health providers in our area to get a sense of their needs. He also connected with the State of Vermont to get a sense of the overall scale of the project.
When we started talking with our contacts in Asia and learned that PPE was available, we immediately placed an order of 500,000 three-layer face masks. Our goal for these masks was to get them here as quickly as possible and provide them free of charge to the essential workers in our area. These essential workers include health care providers, first responders, and employees at grocery stores, food shelves, senior centers, childcare centers and others. We’re happy to report that the masks have arrived and we have started distributing them.
Concept2 also collaborated with the State of Vermont to bring a large quantity of masks, of a couple different varieties, to health workers in the state. After assisting the state with their initial order, we have passed along our contacts and knowledge so that they can continue these supply relationships as needed.
In addition, we have been working with another Vermont-based organization, Generator, to expand their capacity for making plastic face shields. We took their design to a firm that molds plastic parts in Taiwan, and they were able to develop mass manufacturing capability in just a couple of weeks. We continue to be impressed with (and thankful for) the speed at which our long-time contacts are responding, and the high quality of work they are doing.
Dealing with a crisis of this size and nature requires broad collaboration, and a great deal of mutual respect. For many individuals, the best way to help is to just stay home. It may feel like you’re not doing anything, but your willingness to cooperate and follow your state’s guidance is critically important. As the individual members of the Concept2 team, this is what we are doing. As a company, with valuable contacts and channels, it’s important to help. We are happy to be able to do this.