Iconic Marine Group—builder of Fountain, Donzi and Baja boats—is working to produce desperately needed masks and face shields during the age of the coronavirus.
“We were trying to fulfill a couple of needs that we saw,” IMG Chief Financial Officer Tom Vale told Powerboat Nation. “First, we wanted to ensure our employees had pedestrian masks for their own safety. Soon after we started production of our masks, we were approached by our local government and health officials regarding the needs in our community. As a manufacturer, there are things that were within our wheelhouse that, while having nothing to do with PPE, enabled us to quickly get prototypes together and start production of masks and face shields.”
As the pandemic began to worsen, Iconic partnered with the North Carolina Textile District to manufacture 5,000 pedestrian masks. The first 1,500 will be provided to IMG and Custom Truck One Source employees and 500 to local government agencies; the remaining 3,000 will be sent back to NC Textile to be distributed to local health care agencies.
“It’s a tremendous effort from the North Carolina Textile district-they sourced material and prepared kits for simplified manufacturing,” said Natascia McCraight, IMG’s director of Finance, Supply and Production Planning. “We have currently recruited and hired 12 part-time seamstresses to supplement our upholstery department. Our goal is to fulfill the 5,000 masks within two weeks, and then source another 5,000 mask kits and continue to manufacture them until we’ve fulfilled the demand.”
IMG has also partnered with East Carolina University (ECU) and Practicon of Greenville, NC, to manufacture plastic face shields for distribution to the local medical community. “We have delivered approximately 150 shields and are cutting another 120 shields this week,” McCraight said. “We have acquired additional material to cut 1,600 shields next week. ECU is then assembling the completed shields and distributing them to local hospitals and medical facilities. In addition, we’ve been able to distribute shields to a local nursing home in Little Washington.”
The masks and shields have all been designed using the help and generosity of the local community. The initial head strap to hold the protective shield was initially created by Todd Jenkins on his personal 3D printer—when Iconic realized there was a bottle neck with production of the head strap, they were put in contact with Josh Pitzer, from ECU, who has acted as the liaison between ECU and IMG . “The entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to work together and help each other is remarkable,” Vale said.
“This has really been an incredible experience. I’m super proud of Iconic Marine Group leadership and our employees,” McCraight said. “Our metal shop and upholstery shop jumped right in to develop prototypes and are continuing production of PPE. Fountain Powerboats is an American Iconic brand and our employees display true American spirit-it’s a great place to work.”
The crew at Iconic has continued to build boats at full capacity, while observing sensible distancing, wearing protective gear and using antibacterial gel. “We’ve never stopped, not for a minute,” said Iconic COO Jeff Harris. “We’ve implemented phone meetings when possible, introduced staggering breaks and lunches, and do temperature checks each morning. We’re observing CDC guidelines. Unlike a lot of factories, which cram a lot of people into a few bays, we’ve got almost 260,000 square feet here, and we can spread everybody out accordingly.”