The coronavirus has taken a small Washington company and put it into overdrive. Indiana Safety and Supply on Third Street is working virtually non-stop to try and provide personal protective equipment for its medical customers.
“I have been in the safety business for 40 years and I never expected anything like this,” said owner Kevin Bush. “The orders and the calls we are getting is ridiculous. We are doing 12 times the normal number of orders daily. We are completely swamped but we are doing the best that we can.”
Most of the time the company is providing gloves and other safety equipment to industry and utilities, but the business saw a sharp turn in demand and customers almost the moment the nation heard about the coronavirus.
“Some of our suppliers also do medical grade equipment,” said Bush. “We have about eight to 10 of those and we are working a lot with them now.”
Bush says the company normally sells around 30,000 to 40,000 surgical masks a year. Right now, they have 57 million on order.
“We expect to begin receiving 8-to-10 million per week over the next eight weeks,” he said.
And masks are just the tip of the 600 orders per day the company is receiving.
“Cleaning supplies, smocks, frocks, protective face shields, all of it is selling almost as fast as we can get it,” said Bush. “Some of this is crazy difficult to get. We ordered 30,000 face shields, thinking we might not sell them all and instead wound up selling 45,000. We had all of our surgical masks snapped up in 48 hours.”
The new found demand has now put the 35 employees at the business into almost non-stop work. The company is working seven days a week and employees can work from 6 a.m to 8 p.m.
“We are not demanding that they work all of those hours,” said Bush. “But we are making them available to all of our employees.”
The push on the business to provide the materials is so intense that the company is not looking to hire any additional people. “We just added four more workers,” said Bush. “We don’t have the time right now to stop and hire people and train them. We have to go with what we have.”
The boom at Indiana Safety and Supply has been good for the business that just last year went through a major expansion in Washington. Bush says normally his type of business sees a percent growth year over year. That is not what is happening now.
“This has been good for the business, but I would be just as happy to see it go away,” said Bush. “I would much rather have our 5% growth than see all of these people getting ill. I just want to encourage people to heed the warnings so that we can get past this.”