Janesville companies respond to need for protective equipment by producing thousands of face shields

JANESVILLE, Wis.– Two Janesville sister-companies, Prent and GOEX, are responding to the need for personal protective equipment in their community by developing and producing face shields for healthcare professionals and first responders.

In 48 hours, the companies drew designs, created prototypes, consulted with healthcare professionals, and began mass producing face shields by the thousands.

“A perfect example of the private sector responding to a need,” GOEX President Josh Gray said.

Prent is a packaging company, specializing in medical tech, and its sister-company, GOEX, manufactures plastics.

“We are able to take our materials, which are medical grade, and implement them into this shield,” Vice President of Manufacturing at Prent Rachel Andres said.

Together, the companies were able to design an effective face shield made out of polyester with anti-fog coating and foam padding on the inside.

“We know a lot about thin-gauge plastic materials and packaging, and of course Prent knows a lot about what the medical community requires,” Gray said. “That collaboration of material and application brought the face shield to the forefront.”

The face shields are intended to help extend the life of masks for healthcare professionals.

“Doctors are being asked to reuse as much as they can,” Andres said. “This would allow them to reuse their mask.”

As of Thursday, the companies had produced and donated more than 10,000 face shields. Andres said the company is expected to be able to manufacture 30,000 to 40,000 face shields per day by Monday.

“We are going to give them out to the communities we operate in, free of charge,” Andres said. “Then we will see where the need is and take it from there.”

Prent was able to copy some of the protocols used in one of their factories in China, which included allowing employees to take a leave of absence if they didn’t feel comfortable coming to work or are work at risk to the coronavirus. To fill the need for workers, Prent brought in high school students and those who have been furloughed from their current jobs.

Universal Presentation Concepts in Madison is also a supplier of face shields and other protective equipment.

Mercyhealth, one of the healthcare providers that received donations from the manufacturing companies, has also set up donation sites for personal protective equipment at the visitor representative welcome centers in each of the company’s hospital lobbies. They are looking for donations of procedure and surgical masks, N95 masks, face and eye protection, CAPR lenses, disposable isolation gowns, hand sanitizer, and all kinds of disinfectant wipes.