Alabama PPE-maker Eastern Technologies ramps up in COVID-19 battle

Alabama PPE-maker Eastern Technologies ramps up in COVID-19 battle
Eastern Technologies' patented OREX PPE is made from a polymer that can be converted to water and carbon dioxide for low-waste disposal. (Eastern Technologies)

A company in Alabama’s Wiregrass region is helping to fight the COVID-19 pandemic across the U.S. and in hard-hit regions around the world.

Ashford-based Eastern Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of personal protective equipment serving a wide range of industries, provided coveralls that were used by hospitals and response groups in the early stages of the battle against the virus in China.

Those efforts grew as the virus took hold and spread to other parts of the world. ETI has since provided large quantities of PPE, including surgical/isolation gowns and coveralls, to hospitals in Alabama and across the U.S., as well as first-responder groups and utilities as they fight the pandemic.

“At present, our PPE has been utilized in China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, and it is very possible that it has been used in other countries as well via our distributors,” said Mark Fellows, the company’s vice president.

“At this point our supply of PPE to the U.S. has surpassed our supply to any other region or nation with regard to COVID-19-related PPE sales,” he said.

Boosting production

Meanwhile, ETI has been ramping up its output by about 100,000 coveralls per month, as governments around the globe seek to address the current crisis and stockpile for future pandemics.

ETI’s products range from custom, single-use coveralls, gloves and shoes made from traditional materials to its patented OREX PPE. The OREX product line – which includes coveralls, head and foot protection, mops, bags and other items – is made from a special polymer that, when treated by OREX equipment and processes, is converted to water and carbon dioxide.

The result is a drastic reduction in waste and cleanup costs, Fellows said.

Alabama-based Eastern Technologies, a maker of personal protective equipment for a range of industries, is helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic across the U.S. and in hard-hit regions around the world. (Eastern Technologies)

The company’s customers are in a variety of sectors, including defense, energy, nuclear power, chemicals, petrochemicals, refineries and industrial food processing.

In Houston County, ETI provides warehousing and distribution services for parent company Global Resources International Inc., which manufactures medical-industry products such as surgical instruments, gowns, drapes and other supplies.

Based in Flowery Branch, Georgia, GRI has an extensive global manufacturing and distribution network for medical supplies, PPE and animal-care products. ETI’s PPE products are made primarily in Asia.

Other parts of ETI’s business include radiological laundry services for a select group of commercial and government nuclear facilities.

Another part of the company, Curicyn, produces a line of animal wound-care products and related items at its manufacturing and distribution facilities in the Houston County town of Columbia.

‘Vital products’

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said many businesses across the state have pivoted to temporarily produce much-needed medical products and protective gear in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read a story about companies pivoting to produce supplies.

Some are even making long-term investments in these operations, and the Commerce Department has set a goal to recruit more PPE producers to the state.

“Alabama already is home to a number of companies, such as ETI, that are playing a key role in the supply chain of these vital products, and we want to expand that sector here,” Canfield said.

Later this year, ETI will be recognized among the winners of Gov. Kay Ivey’s Trade Excellence Awards.

The company’s main export is related to its patented OREX processing technology, which eliminates about 98% of the radioactive waste that its nuclear customers would otherwise have to dispose of or store long-term in above-ground special storage facilities.

Fellows said the company’s growth in exports is continuing this year.

“At present our biggest growth markets outside of the U.S. are China, with three systems currently being installed at two separate nuclear power facilities, and the United Arab Emirates, which is currently purchasing our OREX protective clothing line in anticipation of securing an OREX Processing System for use in the treatment of the OREX products they use in operating their nuclear power plants.”

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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