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Carroll County companies helping keep ventilators running, making protective masks in COVID-19 fight

CoastTec employees work to manufacture replacement battery packs for non-working ventilators.
CoastTec employees work to manufacture replacement battery packs for non-working ventilators. (Courtesy Photo)

Three Carroll County-based companies were among those granted a combined $1.6 million by the state for their part in producing personal protective equipment (PPE). The owners of these companies say the funding will pay engineering costs and ramp up their processes.

Three of the 20 Maryland companies who received money from the Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund are from Carroll: CoastTec of Eldersburg, LAI International of Westminster, and Strouse of Westminster.

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The funding is going to companies that produce items to protect against infection from the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, including face shields, gowns, gloves masks, and hospital equipment.

CoastTec is switching part of its operation to creating battery packs for Vyaire ventilators after realizing they had the advanced engineering power to solve a problem facing hospitals.

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CoastTec employees work to manufacture replacement battery packs for non-working ventilators.
CoastTec employees work to manufacture replacement battery packs for non-working ventilators. (Courtesy Photo)

Jonathan Sevel, CEO of CoastTec, learned that one of the first things to fail in many ventilators is the battery pack that might last three to five years. He learned that many ventilators are sitting in storage for want of a battery pack.

Ventilators can be lifesaving for patients who experience the most serious respiratory symptoms of COVID-19.

CoastTec is a national leader in battery backups for computers. They invested engineering to design ventilator battery packs, and will start producing them after adding a new production line and doing some tooling changes. The state grant will help with these startup costs.

Sevel believes they can have the first 3,000 packs built and assembled in the next 30 days.

“When it comes to electronics, that what we know, that’s what we do,” he said. “I’m totally thrilled about it.”

Strouse, of Westminster, was already producing N95 masks off and on before the COVID-19 threat emerged, President and CEO Sue Chambers said. Now they are fulfilling much larger orders.

The company is also producing face shields because its equipment is conducive to that kind of manufacturing, she said. They’re able to make the PPE at a high volume, about 15,000 N95 masks per day and 8,000 face shields per day. They are adding additional shifts to their schedule.

A photo shows employees of Strouse in Westminster.
A photo shows employees of Strouse in Westminster. (Courtesy Photo / Strouse)

The state grant will help automate more on the packaging end to increase capacity, she said.

For their employees, she said it is a good feeling to know they are doing important work to protect people in a difficult time.

LAI International is a manufacturer of high-tech components for the aerospace, energy, and industrial sectors

According to the news release, the state grant will support their production of face shields for medical personnel and other workers who use them for protection.

The company had not responded to a call as of 1:30 p.m. Friday.

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More than 200 companies applied for the grant and the state plans to award more funds in coming weeks, according to a news release.

In the release, Gov. Larry Hogan said: “Ramping up our supply of PPE is a critical building block in our state’s recovery plan, and we are taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to secure these resources for our front line workers. I want to thank and commend the local businesses who have shifted their operations and increased production to help us save lives and flatten the curve.”

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