Manufacturers swivel to arm front-line workers

At least a dozen Surrey firms now making masks, shields and sanitizer for virus battle

Western Investor
April 30, 2020

Workers make face shields at Surrey’s Firetech Manufacturing. | City of Surrey
— Workers make face shields at Surrey’s Firetech Manufacturing which has switched part of its facility

At least a dozen Surrey manufacturers, including a brewery, have retooled to produce essential medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic.

The companies have the capacity of producing up to 32,000 face shields, 40,000 reusable fabric face masks and upwards of 200,000 litres of hand sanitizer each month, according to a city statement. 

As of April 30, 11 companies had signed on but another 11 were in the process of retooling, said Amber Stowe of Surrey’s communication department.

The companies have all signed up for a new program Surrey Makes PPE, a City of Surrey initiative to assist senior levels of government and health authorities access large quantities of PPE supplies.

“Surrey is home to one of the largest manufacturing bases in the province and I want to commend our businesses for pivoting so quickly to produce critical medical and protective supplies needed to fight COVID-19,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. 

Surrey Makes PPE was launched to assist senior levels of government and health authorities access large quantities of PPE supplies. An additional nine facilities are in the process of retooling their assembly lines in response. 

The program also provides an online marketplace that allows buyers to source in bulk from manufacturers, such as Central City Brewer, which is now turning out hand sanitizers. 

Surrey’s Firetech Manufacturing repurposed their production lines to produce face shields. 

"Firetech Manufacturing's core business is building custom bags and backpacks for first-responders,” said Dan London, president of Firetech. “When the federal government sounded the call for PPE, we naturally decided to pivot part of our production to build disposable face shields, for most of which is being purchased by the local health authorities.”


Frank O'Brien is the editor of Western Canada's biggest commercial real estate newspaper, Western Investor, as well as a contributing editor at West Coast Condominium, real estate contributor to Business in Vancouver and a regular media commentator on real estate investment.
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