Artisanal ice maker pivots to medical face mask production in Bay City

When you think of the drinking establishments that have been forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners and bar staff immediately garner sympathy. But there’s also a whole subset of industry that exists within the bar ecosystem, a group that includes everyone from liquor distributors to the person who fixes the jukebox.

One uniquely Bay City company is Michigan Clear Ice, an artisanal ice maker that hand crafts clear, slow-melting ice cubes for a number of the state’s craft cocktail bars.

But no craft cocktail bars means little need for artisanal ice. So what now?

Protective face shields for area hospitals.

That’s right. Peter Hardy, owner of Michigan Clear Ice, has turned off the ice-making equipment and fired up the CNC machines he had around the shop. He's now manufacturing protective face shields.

"I have a background in machining and had received a shipment of plastic for a different project I was working on," Hardy says.

"I was able to come up with a design that the hospitals wanted. It was a pretty easy decision to make."

In a post to the company’s Facebook page, Hardy solicited local suppliers of .020” PETG sheet. The post has since been shared more than 2,000 times.

Customers responded, connecting Hardy with a supplier that had enough plastic to keep him busy for at least the next two to three weeks.

Hardy estimates that the has enough material to make 5,000 face masks.

His post also garnered the attention of the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, which has since connected him to area hospitals. Even hospitals in metro Detroit have reached out about the face masks.

No profits will be made from the face masks.

"I’ve always had a diverse work life. This is just one more thing I can do," Hardy says.

"To see the depth in society coming out – everybody’s making face masks, everybody’s doing things to help out. It’s a beautiful thing."

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