Goodwill Industries partners with Keystone Solutions Group to produce face shields

KALAMAZOO — As they deal with the effects the coronavirus pandemic is having on their bottom lines, businesses and organizations are engaging in some in-your-face thinking to generate revenue and keep their employees working.

Late last month, Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan took over the production of face shields from Kalamazoo-based Keystone Solutions Group, an engineering, product development and medical device contract manufacturing company. 

Keystone designed and originally produced the face shields at its location in the Oshtemo Business Park.

Goodwill will sell the face shields directly under the brand 420 East, while Keystone will continue to act as the distributor. The 420 East brand is a nod to the address for the Goodwill facility on East Alcott Street.

John Dillworth, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan, said the face shields will be sold to the organization’s customers, some area nonprofits, and Goodwill affiliates throughout the United States. The face shields will sell for $3 apiece and will be packaged in 50-count boxes.

“Our biggest customers will be other Goodwills across the country,” Dillworth said. “There are 140 across the U.S. and a lot of them have come to the conclusion that face shields are better than face masks.

“If you look at how some people are wearing face masks, it’s embarrassing because they’re not wearing them properly and they’re constantly adjusting them, which means they’re touching their faces. The face shield keeps you from doing that because of the plastic covering.”

A group of 16 Goodwill team members are making the face shields and will double production this week to 12,000 units. Dillworth said he anticipates production to increase next week to 22,500 face shields when additional plastic and foam supplies arrive. 

“We are a little behind on production versus demand,” Dillworth said. “When we’re getting orders now, we’re shipping them out three days after we get them.”

He said his organization wouldn’t have been able to source the supplies without Keystone, which already had contacts for the foam and plastic used to make the face shields.

“We’re buying elastic for the face shields and the packaging material and labels,” Dillworth said. “We had some better sources of more cost-effective packaging supplies.”

The for-profit/nonprofit collaboration was an outgrowth of conversations that took place between Dillworth and Jim Medsker, Keystone’s CEO and a member of Goodwill’s board since 2013. Medsker had served as board president of Goodwill from 2018-2019.

“We had identified that we needed face shields for our employees, and at the same time (Jim) reached out to me and said they needed a workforce to meet the capacity to produce face shields,” Dillworth said.

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