New medical manufacturer bringing jobs to Kelowna, much-needed supplies to frontline workers - InfoNews

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New medical manufacturer bringing jobs to Kelowna, much-needed supplies to frontline workers

Image Credit: Stephanie Ross
May 01, 2020 - 12:12 PM

A Kelowna-based medical manufacturing plant will be up and running by June 1, pumping out millions of surgical quality masks for Canadian frontline workers.

“Normally this would have taken a year for this to come together and it’s only been months,” Warren Jones, president of Breathe Medical Manufacturing, said.

His new factory will be producing 20 million ASTM Level 1 and ASTM Level 2 surgical masks per month starting June 1, and by summer they will ramp up production to  40 million per month.

Level 1 masks are the general standard for both surgical and procedural use. Level 2 offers moderate barrier protection for low-to-moderate levels of aerosols, sprays and fluids.

They don't intend to stop there, either.

“Our plan also involves the expansion of our product lines to include different types of masks, as well as some other medical supplies that are used in hospitals, dental offices, and manufacturing facilities,” Jones said, adding that he and his partners have reached out to 3M to see if there’s a way they can create some of their patented masks in Canada as well.

Jones said that he and his business partners had always considered moving in this direction, as medical masks are always in demand.

The decision to launch into production so quickly, however, was made March 9 and since then things have fallen into place at a breakneck pace.

Kelowna wasn’t the city these business partners had considered in those early days, conditions aligned almost magically to make it happen.

The City did all it could to make the process seamless, he said, and Callahan had the space and the building. And it’s just kept falling into place, with contractors building out the space and supplies being shipped in from spots across North America.

“That’s the good ol’ Canadian spirit rallying,” he said.

The spin-off will be good for Kelowna, too.

“Kelowna is an interesting place in that there’s a lot of small manufacturing so we think there’s a good pool of people for employment.”

The first round of hiring will be for 30 people, though they’re expecting to see an employee roster of 80 when all is said and done.

The contract they have to fulfill first will be for the federal government but going forward they’ve already seen interest from others, including the Ukrainian  government.

And, he said, the company will be here to stay. Already, millions have been invested and the demand is intense.

The global shortage of good quality and readily available medical supplies has created a massive problem for Canada, as well as many other countries abroad,” Jones said.

"The fact is that Canadian retailers, distributors, corporations and citizens, need a stable and reliable supply chain they can count on,” he said, adding that the current supply chain has created

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