Texas Face Mask Maker Running Only One Shift

From the Dallas News:

If you imagine that a local business making surgical face masks is working 24/7, guess again
An owner at the North Texas plant is frustrated that his dire warnings went unheeded.
Mike Bowen runs America’s No. 1 maker of hospital surgical masks, in North Richland Hills. For more than a decade, he predicted a pandemic and the perils of offshore buying.

By Dave Lieber

10:36 AM on Apr 3, 2020

… During this crisis, you’d think the company would be pushing forward on all cylinders, working 24/7 to manufacture the one commodity that Americans and the rest of the world want so badly.

You’d be wrong.

The company is only operating weekday shifts. You drive by nights and weekends and the employee parking lot is empty. …

The story of Bowen’s unhappiness is a cautionary tale about what can happen if Americans searching for cheaper prices send entire industries offshore to countries like Mexico and China.

Everything Bowen has warned about has come true. He warned that allowing another country to serve as our main supplier of personal protection equipment has the potential to become a national security nightmare.

… An examination of his warnings going back more than a dozen years tells the story.

The common theme is that during an outbreak like this, everybody wants to be his customer. But as soon as an outbreak subsides, his customers dump him and run back to China. The reason? His masks may cost a dime each, but a made-in-China mask might go for two cents.

“Last time he geared up and went three shifts a day working his tail off,” the mayor recalled. “As soon as the issue died, he didn’t have any sales. He had to pay unemployment for all these people, and he had to gear down.”

Maybe American-production of certain critical pandemic-related gear should be subsidized through the Defense budget? Require that 50% of the Pentagon’s purchases of PPE should be from American factories, who in turn must have plans and back up equipment for increasing production 10X within 90 days.

This is not a novel situation in world history. Other countries have dealt with similar challenges before.

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