April 2, 2020

Gov. Inslee calls for "World War II" moment on manufacturing; AWB helps lead effort

By: Brian Mittge   Comments: 0
Gov. Jay Inslee released this list of medical gear and personal protective equipment (PPE) that is particularly needed right now. He said that Washington manufacturers are stepping up to make these items, but that even more work is needed to meet increasing demand. 
AWB President Kris Johnson joined Gov. Jay Inslee (remotely, of course) for a press conference Wednesday about how Washington's manufacturers are stepping up to address the state's growing need for medical supplies and equipment. Click here to help supply this equipment.

Inslee said that during World War II, Washington's manufacturers stepped up to build bomber planes, minesweepers and other much-needed wartime material. Now he said that manufacturers are stepping up to make surgical masks, face shields, testing equipment and other gear that is crucial for a successful response to COVID-19. And while the current surge of manufacturing is good, Inslee said even more is needed.

“The fact of the matter is, we need to seize our own destiny,” Inslee said at a news conference. “Now it is time for all of us to turn to manufacturing the equipment we need in this fight, in this war.”

Johnson spoke during the conference, noting that earlier that day, AWB had joined the state Department of Commerce, the Washington State Hospital Association, and dozens of state manufacturers on a call to discuss how to coordinate efforts on manufacturing key items. The state's new "procurement czar" is an executive on loan from Microsoft, whose 30 years of experience at the company include leading their supply chain efforts. 

"Manufacturers have heard your call, governor, and they are stepping up to show critical leadership in this important time," Johnson said during the press conference. "They are all eager and willing to play a leadership role right now. Washington manufacturers, as the governor has talked about, have been the backbone of our economy. In good times they fuel our prosperity, and in challenging times like this they lift us up to find the much-needed solutions for our community and our state."

Johnson also spoke last night to KIRO 7 News, talking about companies like the Fluke Corporation and Kaas Tailored that have stepped up to produce face shields, masks and other gear.. 

One of those manufacturers, Outdoor Research in Seattle, also spoke during the press conference. Owner and CEO Dan Nordstrom said that his manufacturing team spontaneously began exploring how to help. They spent substantial sums of money without knowing exactly who would buy the supplies, simply because it's the right thing to do, he said.

"In just two weeks we have tooling on the way and a validated supply chain in place," Nordstrom said. "Frankly, it's been super inspiring to everyone on the team to see our teams dive into solving this problem."

The state needs surgical masks, swab tests, saline solution, vials, N95 masks, gloves, surgical gowns, and face shields, Inslee said. Even if manufacturers can't make the entire product, help in making one component is also valuable, the governor said. Click here to help supply this equipment.

“If you are a business that can make any of these products or even components of these products, you will have an infinite demand because the entire nation is suffering what we are on the scarcity of these products. So don’t worry about the demand. Whatever you can make, we will find a place to sell it. We will use it first and then the rest of the nation can use it as well,” Inslee said.

Johnson said manufacturers have responded and will continue to step up. 

"We are in this together. We are proud that 'Made in Washington' can make a difference," Johnson said.

AWB Government Affairs Director Tommy Gantz, a supply chain professional previously employed in the aerospace industry, is leading AWB's efforts on coordinating the state's manufacturers to meet this need. Contact her here, or visit AWB's COVID-19 manufacturing page to learn more. 

Watch the manufacturing portion of the press conference here: