Changing Gears: This Oklahoma factory now makes surgical gowns and masks instead of car covers

Great State

PAULS VALLEY, Okla. (KFOR) — It’s still a fabric and stitching business.

The Covercraft plant in Pauls Valley usually has more than 100 employees inside making seat covers, car covers, and sun visors.

“Any kind of automotive protection product,” says Fred Wesstrom, Vice President of Manufacturing at the facility.

A couple of weeks back, he was in charge of shutting down to comply with state guidelines.

This week, he was in charge of finding 30 volunteers to come back in and start making surgical gowns and face masks as fast as they could churn them out.

“Since we launched this on Monday,” he says, “we already have 50,000 orders, or pieces for requirement.”

“And your capacity at this point,” queries a visitor?

Wesstrom answers, “On this product, we’re already at about 4,000 pieces per day and about the same on face masks.”

The actual job is pretty simple.

Their PPE’s are a one size fits all hospital gown.

Fred puts one on to show us but laughs, “I don’t know if I want to be the model.”

Throw in as many protective masks as possible.

“Our phone hasn’t stopped ringing since we first put them out there,” he says.

People like Devon Lua were bored sitting at home. Coming to work this week felt like pitching in.

“You see in the news and online about the shortages,” she says. “I just wanted to be available to help.”

Tanya Stevens answered the call right away too.

“To help people,” she states.

Kevin Spencer is just glad the factory lights are still on.

“To keep working with the company,” he says, “and to help it stay open.”

Wesstrom says demand is so high, he’s planning another call for volunteers from his work force.

It might be a little tricky to fit them in.

Part of his design for making these new products has to include proper social distancing.

“We’ve got everyone set up in every other sewing machine,” he points out. “Our whole facility is managed so that we’ve minimized any kind of touch points.”

But people here refer to this plant as a big engine, and changing the gears to help out in a crisis not only puts people back to work, it’s making them feel good about it too.

Covercraft opened their Pauls Valley facility in 1993 in a shuttered Wrangler jeans factory.

For more information about what they usually manufacture,visit the Covercraft website.

‘Is This a Great State or What?’ is sponsored by WEOKIE.

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