BY NICOLAS GRIZZLE
And now for a bit of positive news on the Coronavirus crisis: Evans has found a way to convert drumheads into face shields for healthcare workers. Production has already started, and the company is working to have production up to 100,000 shields per week by April 27.
In late March, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered all non-essential businesses to cease operations and for all their employees to stay home. Evans’ parent company D’Addario had to close its factories in New York, including the recently expanded Evans factory in Farmingdale, but the company had already started working on a way to help address the shortage of protective gear for New York and the nation’s healthcare workers.
In three days, D’Addario engineers had made a prototype protective face shield using the clear film from the widely popular Evans G2 drumheads. And with it, a way to get at least some of their employees back to work.
“It mostly started with the idea of helping out New York and our community, but expanded into something global because we are a global company with shipping capabilities,” said Steven Grimler, acting public relations director for D’Addario. The company set a conservative date of the end of April to have manufacturing, packaging, and distribution in place to ensure the safety of its employees coming back to work as well as making sure the products, packaging, and labels complies with medical professional standards.
“It’s our intention to manufacture these shields as long as they’re needed in New York or anywhere around the globe,” said Chief Innovation Officer Jim D’Addario. “We’ve watched the incredible efforts of our healthcare and essential services workers all across the world with great admiration. While we cannot match the immeasurable efforts of these selfless heroes, we feel an immense responsibility to do our part in overcoming the COVID-19 crisis.”
D’Addario said the distribution, at least initially, will be handled by the State of New York. “We were solicited by the governor’s office,” said D’Addario. “When we told them we thought we could make these face shields, they told us, ‘We’re here to support you.’” As of right now, it looks like the State will purchase the shields directly and distribute them across the state. The company is aiming to make over 1 million face shields by the end of July, and has been getting calls from outside the state for them as well.
The need for medical equipment is certainly dire at the moment. “They’re cleaning these things and using them for a week; they used to throw them out after each patient,” said D’Addario.
The company already has anFDA-approved brand, Dynatomy, which makes products for physical therapy like hand exercisers for placement in drugstores across the country. Having that FDA approval helped get the green light from New York State officials to operate as an essential business in this manner, said Grimler.
“We called this Project Excelsior after the New York State motto, which means ‘Ever Upward,’ because it captured the extraordinary determination and can-do spirit of our small team of engineers and product designers,” said CEO John D’Addario III.
In case you were wondering, making medically approved face shields out of drumheads isn’t something that can be easily replicated at home. “It’s not necessarily a drumhead turned into a face shield, but it’s more as if you deconstructed a drumhead,” said Grimler.
Evans’ clear G2 heads are made with two plies of 7mil film. “The particular film we use is very clear, which is ideal for face shields,” said Jim D’Addario. The company also has an ample supply, which is important as the material has been getting hard to come by as the crisis and need for medical equipment ramps up around the world. It could also be made with G1 10mil film if necessary, said D’Addario.
“It’s pretty easy, actually,” he added. “We die-cut the shield, get some foam rubber to space it from your forehead, and get a strap on it for your head… If Remo, Aquarian, or any other drumhead company wanted to do it, I’d certainly welcome a phone call and tell them what we’ve been through doing it; this is about helping with a problem.”
D’Addario was quick to praise his employees on the project. “For me, it’s very rewarding to watch my team come together on stuff like this. They’re clever people, and so dedicated to helping out the cause. I’m really proud of them.”