Outdoor Gear Builders (OGB), a nonprofit business association made up of Western North Carolina-based outdoor industry companies, announced that many of its members are working to support the healthcare industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the last several weeks, OGB member and cycling apparel manufacturer Kitsbow fielded requests from across the U.S. for its Face Shield for first responders and medical providers. Kitsbow has now switched over all production from apparel to manufacturing face masks and shields for first responders and other healthcare workers. The demand went from 23,000 to over 100,000 units per week. To meet the need, bike wheelset and component manufacturer Industry Nine sourced the raw materials and is assisting with production. Local brands Watershed and Oowee are also assisting in the production of the masks.

Another OGB member, Sylvan Sport, manufacturer of outdoor gear and travel trailers, has also been working with state and local officials to help during the crisis switching over their manufacturing focus to produce thousands of face shields for healthcare workers and have been able to tap into their international supply chain to source hundreds of thousands of N95 masks and thousands of Tyvek suits for local and state distribution. Additionally, they have offered up their Rapidly Deployable Mobile Shelters to be used for emergency shelters for health facilities and the homeless.

“With our manufacturing, design and engineering capabilities, we are capable of quickly meeting the needs of this changing landscape,” stated Kyle Mundt, VP of new product development at Sylvan Sport and Vice-Chair of the OGB Board.

Other brands are joining in to support the community-at-large, including local tent and outdoor gear manufacturer Diamond Brand Gear, who is working with the Carolina Textile District to be the cutter and sewer of needed PPE once they have secured their supply chain and patterns. Diamond Brand Gear is also offering its Wall Tents for Rapidly Deployable Mobile Shelters for emergency use as needed.

“Times like these require us to pull together as a community,” said Matt Godfrey, Board Chair of the Outdoor Gear Builders. “The Outdoor Gear Builders has always been about collaborating and supporting each other and our community. We’re hoping this outpouring of support for our healthcare system will allow us to protect those working on the frontlines of this pandemic.”

Photo courtesy Outdoor Gear Builders