LENOIR, N.C. — April 8, 2020 — Fairfield Chair Co., a family-owned residential and contract seating company based in Lenoir, N.C., has retooled its production of chairs and sofas to high-in-demand surgical gowns in an effort to help rush supplies to health care companies on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Representing a small-town American manufacturing success story, Fairfield has nearly 100 years of experience producing seating for a variety of markets. But it has never produced apparel until now.
When the spread of the coronavirus impacted Fairfield and the entire U.S. manufacturing sector, Fairfield executives jumped into action.
The upholstered seating manufacturer, which essentially took a crash course on apparel patternmaking and industry specs, has switched its production to surgical gowns overnight. In just over a week, Fairfield produced its first samples of the surgical gown and immediately received approval on the prototype from Blue Ridge Healthcare in North Carolina, which has placed an initial order for 1,200 surgical gowns.
“We are a small company in Lenoir North Carolina with 450 employees,” said Doug McClurd, vice president of imports for Fairfield. “We have been primarily manufacturing dining, occasional chairs and sofas since 1921. This is the first time the company has converted over to making Level 1 surgical gowns and we now also have the ability to cut and sew the masks.”
Cotswold Industries worked closely with Fairfield to help the company pivot to gown and mask manufacturing and provide the materials needed for the finished products.
“As a U.S. manufacturer of textiles, Cotswold has worked hard to quickly pivot to making PPE [personal protective equipment] fabrics for our community. In partnership with Fairfield Chair we designed a product for a quick turn program to immediately address the needs of our healthcare heroes in the Carolinas,” said James McKinnon, Cotswold CEO.
“Cotswold is committed to using its 68 years of textile manufacturing experience and expertise to help ramp up Made in USA PPE products.”
Milliken & Company has also worked with Fairfield to provide critical materials.
“As our valued customers change course to manufacture PPE products during this critical time, Milliken is proud to provide them with medical fabrics that meet requirements and provide antimicrobial protection, manufactured right here in the Southeast, said Chad McAllister, president and executive vice president of Milliken’s Textile Division. “Trusted quality and solid partnerships are essential right now, and we believe the value of a U.S. textile supply chain is even more evident during times like these. We applaud Fairfield Chair’s cohesive strategy and speed to market in producing garments for healthcare workers on the front lines of this pandemic.”
Fairfield is also tapping into the experience it gained from producing seating for senior living facilities, which require certain materials with antimicrobial finishes.
“We are very accustomed to working with antimicrobial fabrics however, we have never worked with wovens that are developed to meet specifications like this material has to,” McClurd said. “It has been a challenging effort to re-task, but the response from our Senior Living customers and local Health Care facilities in regards to supporting Fairfield Chair with orders on this has been uplifting.”
“It is the little things that give people hope. It gives us hope to think we can be a player and can be taken seriously to help our Health Care heroes. Everyone around here wants to help in this situation. This gives us the outlet and at the same time, it eases the pain in manufacturing environment to give hope that we can be back and running and put people back to work,” McClurd said.
Fairfield Chair Co. is a major U.S. manufacturer of fine upholstered seating for the home, office, and hospitality industries. Established in 1921, Fairfield Chair distributes its product throughout the U.S. and many other countries.
Posted April 8, 2020
Source: Fairfield Chair Co.