A Rensselaer-based filter manufacturing company that launched a startup in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has received a federal designation to manufacture and distribute medical-grade N95 masks.
The company, Indiana Face Mask, says it has earned a certificate of approval from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, an agency of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Parent American Melt Blown & Filtration produces material for heavy-duty uses, such as oil manufacturing, municipal water systems, the food and beverage sectors, and desalinization.
The NIOSH authorization means the Rensselaer-based manufacturer’s medical products meet strict government standards.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Vice President Clayton Geyer explained why the company launched the new product line.
“When COVID started, we got 20 to 50 phone calls a day, trying to get the material from us,” said Geyer. “But we thought, this is kind of silly. We already have the hardest part done. We already have the correct materials.”
The company announced the initiative in May. Since then, it acquired a 25,000-square-foot building in Rensselaer to convert it into a federally approved, personal protective equipment production facility.
Geyer says more than a thousand companies applied for the licensing, but only five received the NIOSH designation.
“They are very thorough in terms of you everything from receiving inspections, how you transfer the material, how the material is marked, what your quality control specs needs to be along the way. They are very thorough on everything,” said Geyer. “That’s the reason why a lot of applicants failed is because they didn’t take the whole control procedure as strictly as what they should have.”
Indiana Face Mask currently has 20 people producing masks. When the company announced the startup, it expected to hire 14 additional people. But since then, the number has grown to 30, which they hope to hire by the end of the year.
Geyer says right now, they are working around the clock, five days a week. But due to demand for PPE, he expects they will move to a seven-day schedule.
At full capacity, the company expects to manufacture 17 million N95 masks annually. Geyer says the masks will initially stay in Indiana for hospitals, first responders, long-term care facilities and health care providers treating COVID-19 patients along with small businesses and nonprofits through the Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace.
Vice President Clayton Geyer explained why the company launched the new product line.