GREENSBORO, N.C. -- They’re rapidly becoming some of the most high-demand machines in the world, as health care workers strive to keep people breathing while they battle COVID-19.
Some major companies, such as General Motors and Tesla, have offered to help manufacture new ones. But, there’s also a Greensboro-based company, with 125 employees in three states, which is getting involved right now.
“We sell to a lot of different applications which makes it a lot of fun,” said Chuck Keeley, owner of CGR Products.
Keeley’s father started CGR Products as Carolina Gasket and Rubber Company in 1963. It now operates in Greensboro, Alabama and Wisconsin.
Keeley says the company supplied ventilator gaskets several years ago, but then the assembly was outsourced to a foreign country.
“During this obviously unique situation we need to start making ventilators here in this country,” Keeley said.
Originally unbeknownst to him, his employees saw the need and discovered they still had the tool they needed to create the gaskets.
“Our team just did a tremendous job,” he said. “They jumped in.”
The tool was one thing. Finding the high-temperature adhesive with sulfur-free neoprene rubber was another.
“It’s a rare raw material,” Kelley detailed. “We were able to get a hold of it.”
The company will begin producing the gaskets - which are designed to go on the timer unit for the ventilator - at its Wisconsin location by the start of next week. They’ll then be shipped off to the company that puts the ventilators together.
“I think the company is in New Jersey, and they should be assembling these ventilators, it’s my understanding, late next week,” Keeley explained.
Keely says once again being involved in creating the lifesaving devices during a global pandemic is putting an emphasis on the worthwhile work being done at CGR.
“In times of really high anxiety this is a good feel-good thing,” he said. “When you see as much as you do now about ventilators on the news, to be involved at this level is really exciting.”
Although the gaskets will be manufactured in Wisconsin, there could be more positive news for the company here in the Triad.
“Ironically, we’re working on another ventilator part for a different company as we speak as well, and that would be produced in Greensboro if that works out,” Keeley revealed. “So, it’s just a lot of fun. A lot of excitement and that makes people feel good.”