Boeing supplier pivots portion of work to construct face shields

TACOMA, Wash. -- Boeing has time and again over the years been our state’s largest employer.

But thanks to this pandemic thousands of jobs were slashed while the economic crunch also rolled on to local suppliers.

Companies like Woodland Trade Company in Pierce County also felt the pain. It’s a family business that has worked hand-in-hand with the aerospace giant for decades. Just like Boeing it also had to make painful cuts.

But now, there’s a new vision at the company. It has begun providing safety equipment for those on the front lines. Workers who once had been laid off are now back on the clock to help build protective equipment for doctors, dentists and medical professionals everywhere.

“We want to put ourselves out there to say, we’re here to help,” said CEO Pat Orrino.

Ever since a pandemic sent airlines worldwide into a nosedive, tool design and fabricators like the Woodland Trade Company also took a hit.

But while COVID-19 was a cause for the problem, it’s also been a catalyst for change. The swift change in business reality forced the company to rethink strategies. Now their future, in part, includes face shields.

“We started making face shields for the general public,” said Bruce Green.

The company boasts a supply chain offering high-quality raw materials. Because of that, company leaders believe they can construct face shields alongside aircraft components.

“They needed something they could wear all day that would be comfortable, clear, and breathes appropriately,” said Green.

The shields sell for only $20. Their design and production meant bringing employees back to work. They are intended for doctors and dentists, or really anyone else, trying to stay safe re-entering an economy laden with fears and worry over a deadly virus.

“We need to make sure these are well designed and durable,” said employee Scott Wise.

While some sectors of our economy remain paralyzed, those lucky enough deemed essential during a pandemic can sometimes re-imagine their model, get families back to work and provide a shield of comfort for those still battling the front lines of a pandemic.

“It’s a tough period of time” said Orrino. “I try to think of what my dad used to say. Through adversity comes strength and that strength makes you a better person.”

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