Sassa Akervall, CEO of Saline-based Akervall Technologies, was devastated when the COVID-19 pandemic caused sports organizations to suspend their seasons. Akervall's primary product is its SISU sports mouthguard, and the company couldn't survive months without any orders.
"Sports were cancelled and we had nothing," Akervall says.
Luckily, Akervall COO Kathy Capelli had an idea to keep the business running and help others during this crisis: making face shields for medical workers instead of mouthguards.
"It's really killing two birds in one stroke," Akervall says. "We had the material just sitting here in our plant and face shields are in low supply. We can keep our business going and still fighting."
Face shields protect medical workers more than a typical face mask due to their full facial coverage. Like masks, they are also urgently needed by hospitals and healthcare organizations.
After a few weeks sourcing other necessary materials, Akervall will begin producing face shields this week. Even once the COVID-19 crisis ends, Akervall is considering continuing production of face shields as long as there's a need.
Akervall says the support of organizations like Small Business Association of Michigan and the federal CARES Act small business relief package have also been crucial in keeping her business afloat.
"It's mind-boggling. It's been a complete 180 of how you think about things," Akervall says. "This is just survival, and there are lots and lots of helping hands."
Face shields are available to order online, but Sassa encourages organizations looking to place an order to contact her at PPE@Sisuguard.com.
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Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at email@example.com.
Photos courtesy of Sassa Akervall.