Merrow Manufacturing LLC – a 182-year-old, eighth-generation family-owned brand based in Fall River, Mass., with centuries-long expertise in sewing and textiles – has swiftly become the largest producer of US-sourced PPE, from fibre through to sewing, according to the company. In response to the vast and ongoing needs of Covid-19 healthcare workers and first responders, Merrow pivoted to produce reusable and disposable PPE equipment. The formation of this new medical division provides an immediate and substantial domestic solution for essential medical supplies in the US, while also creating a regional economic boost in job opportunities.
Merrow has signed contracts to supply PPE to more than 85 hospitals and private healthcare facilities and is fully compliant with FDA rules and regulations. Merrow projects it will be building 700,000 gowns per week by July 2020, producing up to 4 million medical gowns and coveralls over the next several months, and creating an estimated 900 jobs in 4-5 manufacturing plants in the Northeast region. Merrow’s investment of roughly US$ 5 million to meet the new production needs will remain in the brand’s Massachusetts region, where more than 3 million products are being built locally.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker visited the Merrow Manufacturing facility in early May, and the administration has an order with Merrow for 2.5 million gowns. The governor noted that “Merrow Manufacturing is one of the biggest success stories of the state’s Manufacturing Emergency Response Team.” “This obviously will establish a new, substantial and very secure supply chain for essential medical products and gear for our healthcare workers right here in the Commonwealth that can support providers here in Massachusetts, and in other areas as well,” Governor Baker said.
As effects of the pandemic exposed catastrophic issues in the global supply chains of PPE equipment, Merrow began rapidly engineering an answer in its 30,000 square foot facility. Merrow’s increased manufacturing capacity impacts a wide variety of organisations beyond major hospital systems, where PPE is also critical to operations. The AD1 and ULR1 gowns are integral in helping assisted living facilities prevent the spread of Covid-19, and the reopening of dentists offices, health clinics, PT, and mental health facilities around the country are being made possible through use of Merrow PPE.
Co-owners Owen and Charlie Merrow have partnered with several fabric manufacturing companies – including the 200-year old textile company DuPont – that also was looking to aid the crisis by providing innovative & sustainable textiles to the new medical line. With a 100% US-sourced and produced supply chain close to home and ensuring total production control, Merrow has scaled to become the largest manufacturer of USA-sourced-fabric/ thread/trim-PPE Medical Isolation Gowns in the country, according to the company.
“For over 180 years, our business has been intricately woven into American history, which is why this pivot to manufacturing PPE feels like a true and natural extension of our brand,” Charlie Merrow said. “This new medical-focused division is not just a response to the current situation, but an opportunity to create an entirely domestic supply chain and reinvigorate our healthcare system and local communities; creating jobs, brand longevity, and performance-oriented products for our front-line workers.”
PPE equipment has largely not seen innovation in the last decade, so Merrow is proud to have reimagined and developed the most evolved, performance-driven PPE gowns available worldwide. The garments are able to withstand rigorous use, have a breathable yet waterproof exterior, are streamlined in cut & fit, & meet the AAMI Level III standard.
Merrow’s medical line introduces a unique textile partnership with outdoor performance brand FORLOH. FORLOH is a newly launched tactical brand, and has allowed Merrow to utilise US-produced ballistics-grade nylon, initially earmarked for lightweight tents, packs, travel gear and accessories, making this new PPE equipment incredibly durable & longer lasting than traditional disposable items.
Merrow is also collaborating with DuPont for the production of single-use isolation gowns made from DuPont™ Tyvek® as part of the #TyvekTogether programme. From first responders to industrial workers, DuPont provides a wide range of personal protection solutions including some of the most trusted and innovative brands in the industry, such as Kevlar®, Nomex®, Tychem® and Tyvek, the latter of which Merrow is utilizing for hundreds of thousands of PPE units for both State and hospital orders.
“DuPont is proud to be collaborating with Merrow Medical PPE to support their manufacturing of isolation gowns made with DuPont Tyvek 1222A fabric,” said David Domnisch, global business leader, DuPont Personal Protection. “They are quickly leveraging their domestic manufacturing capacity to increase the availability of PPE made of Tyvek to help protect the frontline responders for the Covid-19 response. We are grateful for their support in helping fulfill the vision we had as we launched the #TyvekTogether programme. Although this is the first time we have worked directly with Merrow, they have played a pivotal role in our DuPont Personal Protection business for years as they invented the overlock stitching machine which to this day plays a key role in nearly all Tyvek protective apparel manufacturing.”
The new PPE collection includes nine products; from surgical caps and gators, to five medical and isolation gowns:
- ULR1 Ultralight Ripstop Reusable Gown – performs for over 100 washes. This innovative approach to the Level 1 and Level 2 isolation gown is breathable, lightweight and abrasion resistant. Using fabrics found in tactical performance outdoor gear, it is the most comfortable and durable Isolation gown in the market.
- AD1 Advanced Disposable Medical Gown – a single tie open back design, built from a fabric that passes Level 3 AAMI testing, and can withstand up to 30 washes in warm water. This makes the AD1 the only disposable isolation gown that can perform for weeks in service.
- AD2 Advanced Disposable Isolation Gown – features the same fabric and performance as the AD1, except with a fully protected back, and two ties.
- NWD1 Medical Gown – a single use disposable garment built from 100% high density polyethylene non-woven fabric that exceed level 3 performance requirements when tested against AATCC 127 and AATCC 42 industry consensus based standards. Built in partnership with Dupont, the NWD1 garment combines protection and durability using Tyvek® 1222A fabric that is 2X more fluid resistant than conventionally sourced ‘SMS’ fabrics. This product protects first responders, frontline workers, and patients.
- NWD2 Isolation Gown – features the same fabric and performance as the NWD1, with a fully protected back, and two ties.