Months after Farmingdale-based musical instrument maker D’Addario & Co., Inc. converted its drum-making facility to make face shields amid rising demand for PPE at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, the company is getting a boost.
New York State and the Empire State Development Corporation recently awarded D’Addario, the world’s largest musical instrument accessories manufacturer, a $341,000 grant to expand its COVID-19 face shield manufacturing operations.
“At a time when we were scouring the earth in search of personal protective equipment, New York State’s manufacturers like D’Addario answered the call to support our COVID-19 front-line heroes,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a recent tour of the 200,000-square-foot facility that employs nearly 1,000 people.
The move mirrors actions manufacturers locally and nationwide made to help combat COVID-19 — widely considered the most significant business response of its kind since World War II — with the likes of Hanes making masks and ExxonMobil turning out hand sanitizer, to name a few.
With the grant, D’Addario will build four semi-automated work cells to improve efficiency, lower manufacturing cost, and double production capacity — leading to more face shields and additional factory jobs.
Switching from guitar strings and drumheads to PPE almost overnight was no simple feat. After D’Addario closed its factory doors in April, a team of engineers, led by Chief Innovation Officer Jim D’Addario, developed the face shields from the clear film used to make the Evans G2 drumhead. Since D’Addario had previously produced certain physical therapy products through its FDA-registered brand Dynatomy, the team was able to develop a prototype in just three days.
To date, D’Addario has sold almost 1.5 million face shields, mostly to hospitals and healthcare equipment distributors. But the face shields have also found their way to local businesses, schools, and even the Detroit Lions NFL team.
“An unprecedented crisis like the global pandemic in many ways can define individuals and organizations,” said D’Addario CEO John D’Addario III. “I could not be prouder of the ingenuity and genuine care of our family of employees at D’Addario in helping those in need of PPE materials.”
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