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Suburban Chicago furniture company making facemasks amid COVID-19 outbreak

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

By Sally Schulze

ALSIP, Ill. - With a national shortage of protective gear for medical workers, one south suburban company is stepping up to help. NorthCape should be getting its outdoor furniture ready for the busy summer season. Instead, workers forget about patios to churn out personal protection equipment.

“We had fabric and had the ability to continue operations here and that’s how it all started,” said Tom Murray, NorthCape president. Murray says they can sew 5,000 reusable facemasks a day. Plus, they’re starting to make gowns using the same bright fabric you’d normally see on patio cushions. It’s all bound for desperate healthcare workers.

“We heard people were asked to bring bandannas or scarves to work. We thought, that’s crazy and we figured we could do better than that,” said Murray.

Obviously, changing the production line helps fill a crucial need, but owners of NorthCape also want to make sure their 75 workers have jobs.

“As a business owner, we wanted to help. It feels good,” said Murray. “We would like to keep people employed and, hopefully, when all done, we will be one of the businesses that survive.”

NorthCape could ramp up production if there’s demand, or teach other businesses how to make this same lifesaving and job-saving switch.

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