PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Normally, the people donning protective gear would be fixing wrecked cars — but at Central Auto Body, these are not normal times.
With fewer wrecked cars to fix, Central Auto’s owner Bret Bothwel and some of his employees converted an auto body building into a protective face shield production line. Next week, they’ll begin higher volume production making face shields for medical workers and first responders.
“So what I’m trying to do is employ technicians that are pretty crafty by nature. They can assemble just about anything,” said Bothwel. “If they can fix a wrecked car they can certainly figure out how to build a mask or a shield for medical people.”
Bothwel says he’s fronting money for purchase of plastic foam and elastic that go into shields. Suppliers have chipped seed amounts of materials for free while some suppliers have sold him material at their cost. But to ramp up production, Bothwel says he’ll need help with money he’s raising in a GoFundMe campaign.
He says he’ll be able to produce as many masks as he has money to make and that could be thousands and thousands.
“We’re just trying to do our part,” said Bothwel. “We have a ton of people in our own company that have heard about it and said they want to volunteer their time even though they’re still working for us, they’re still wanting to get involved.”
These are shields that might normally cost about $20 delivered — but Bothwel says as long as donations are there, he will keep making shields and providing them to medical people and fist responders for free.
It is another testament to the good brought out in people and companies by the bad times that have suddenly engulfed our lives.