By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Since its ancestor companies began doing business in 1988, Muskogee Technology’s product line has been adjusted to meet the demands of a global economy or an area disaster. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing a critical shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers nationwide, the company has shifted gears again.
Muskogee Technology officials announced last week that the company, owned by Poarch Band of Creek Indians and mainly involved in defense and aerospace fabrication, has started producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to assist in the fight against COVID-19.
More specifically, MT is producing protective gowns. The first batch was delivered to an area hospital last week.
The off-course move will create two benefits, one to the company’s employees and one to the fight against the novel coronavirus that has caused the deaths of 137 Alabama residents. Company officials not only want to do their part in the battle against the dreaded virus, they also want to continue to provide jobs for MT’s 77 employees.
“Muskogee Technology is always looking for new paths to help,” said President and CEO Westly L. Woodruff in a press release. “We are honored to serve and do what we can during this pandemic. I am proud we have the agility to refocus our equipment, workforce, and other vital resources critically needed to assist our healthcare communities during these trying times.”
Woodruff began working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration immediately upon learning of the shortage of PPE needed to combat COVID-19. He realized that the detour in the production line would solve both riddles. In addition to saving lives, Muskogee Technology would also be able to retain its entire work staff.
The first batch of MT gowns was delivered to Baptist Health Care last week. Baptist’s CEO and President Mark Faulkner said the much-needed partnership with the PPE provider would play a large role in Baptist’s ability to more safely deal with the coronavirus.
“We are thankful Muskogee Technology can shift its production to gowns for our doctors, nurses and team members,” Faulkner said. “COVID-19 has changed the health care landscape, and as we work to provide care to our patients and others we serve, we are grateful this local company can partner with us in this way.”
Jen Chism, marketing manager for Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority, said Muskogee Technology evolved through several stages from Strader Manufacturing, a Milton, Fla. metal-stamping company, before establishing its current corporate identity in 1988.
Chism said MT officials aren’t sure just how long the company would continue production of its newest product line. That depends upon many factors, including the length of the pandemic, how long it takes to rebuild nationwide inventories to tolerable levels and — in the end — whether the alternative production will pay for itself, or at least come close.
“Regarding the length of the surgical PPE project, we cannot say at this time,” the CIEDA marketing manager explained. “We are still evaluating cost effectiveness, and do not yet know the future demand for these products as a domestic supplier.”
Still, she added, MT’s contribution to the fight against COVID-19 is a move of which officials and employees should be proud.
“We are, however, pleased that we were agile enough to quickly assess our capabilities and realign focus in attempt to aid in the fight against COVID-19,” Chism said. “We are grateful for our team members, CIEDA and the Poarch Creek leadership providing so much support. It is this unwavering support that has enabled us and provided confidence to delve into producing medical PPE during this critical time and protect those who selflessly serve others.”