RUSSELLS POINT – An Indian Lake area company located in Russells Point called World Class Plastics has started production of new Personal Protection Equipment. It now produces the “hey dont (sic) touch your face” face shield.
Like so many companies supplying products to the automotive industry, this plastics company in Russells Point has experienced significant economic pain from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Within a matter of a few days, this small Russells Point company went from a booming economy, the best year the company ever had, to virtually no orders.
“Seemingly overnight in March of 2020, our sales dropped by over 80% and we found ourselves in fear of losing our company and the inability to employ our workforce,” said Steve Buchenroth, owner of World Class Plastics.
World Class Plastics was founded in 1994 by Steve Buchenroth, Scott Wisniewski and Neil Schroer and produced its first product in September of 1994.
The company’s first projects as a start-up in 1994 were the production of clips and fasteners for the automotive industry. Steve and Scott still own the company today. “We employ about 100 people now, and consider our associates to be an extended family and our most valuable resource.” added David Wisniewski, VP of Engineering and R&D. “We are a small business in Russells Point, Ohio doing custom injection molding, light assembly, and some decorating. Our customers are from the automotive, industrial, aerospace, and dental supply businesses,” explains Wisniewski.
But now with virtually no sales due to the coronavirus pandemic the company needed to quickly re-tool to survive.
Day 1 – the idea
It all started just about a month ago on Sunday evening, March 30, 2020, when owner Steve Buchenroth listened to an interview with New York physician Dr. David Price on the Fox News show “Watters’ World.” Dr. Price, of Weill Cornell Medical Center and Jesse Watters, left Steve with a very important safety message, “DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE!”
Looking at the prospect of a growing pandemic, the shortage of personal protection equipment and the wisdom from Dr. Price, Buchenroth called his co-owner of World Class Plastics, Scott Wisniewski, that night and they agreed to immediately take on the task of designing and making face shields and face masks.
“Our motivation was to replace lost business so we could get as many associates back on the job as soon as possible, and generally to be of service to our community,” stated David Wisniewski.
Day 2 – remarkable teamwork
The very next day, on March 31, after sharing this information with several team members, a prototype of a face shield was designed and a 3D model printed that actual day. After a few more design changes and more 3D prototypes, the team’s face shield design was incredibly completed.
Company employees Nick Wisniewski, David Wisniewski, Scott Wisniewski, WC Wagoner, Rob Harter and Tracy McCloud were very instrumental in accomplishing this feat.
Day 3 – incredible feat
Then, incredibly just one day later on April 1, 2020 their tooling department began an unprecedented process of building an injection mold with no time to waste.
“The management, engineering, and tooling teams decided to first develop a face shield and get it into mass production via injection molding as fast as we could,” added Wisniewski.
“Many face shields were being produced around the country by 3D printing, but we wanted to do something that would increase output by over 100X compared to 3D printing because the need was so great. Plus, an injection-molded part is stronger and much more durable than a 3D-printed part,” said Wisniewski.
So the team got down to business and Nick Wisniewski pushed the CAD files of the “halo” over to the tooling department where they began the tool build process.
Rob Harter, Rennie Putnam and Jason Cruea began to work around the clock to build the halo tool for the face shield.
Production Engineer Dan Notestine designed and built an end-of-arm tool to enable the 5 axis robot to remove the parts from the tool.
Robin Brandewie designed the art for the poly label on the front of the shield. Becky Cronkleton secured a supply of weather proof and alcohol resistant poly labels.
Scott Wisniewski and Kathy Hall continued securing vendors for the shield/visor portion of the face shield.
Day 4 – mold completed
After an amazing amount of effort from the tooling department, the new tool was completed and polished by 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, 2020 and production could begin!
Day 5 – production begins, 1st order shipped
On April 3, 2020, days after co-owner Buchenroth came up with the idea from watching a TV news show, the newly built injection mold (tool) was installed into a press at 8 a.m. and production began.
“The tool not only ran perfectly but it ran faster than our predicted cycle, allowing us to produce 70,000 pieces per month on a 5-day work week or 100,000 pieces per month on a 7-day work week,” explained Buchenroth.
“We started planning the project on Monday, March 30, and by Friday, April 3 we had a simple mold completed and running at a rate of 3,400 face shield frames per day,” added David Wisniewski.
The company’s very first order of “hey dont touch your face” shields was then filled and shipped to a local organization in Logan County. “Many thanks to Angel Payne from The Logan County Solid Waste District for purchasing 100 of our “hey don’t touch your face” shields. It was great to make our first shipment right here in Logan County,” said Buchenroth.
In just five days this small company turned what was turning into a lemon (no fault of their own) into lemonade. Only in America with great American workers can such a phenomenal story like this unfold.
Once this incredible 5-day metamorphosis of the company took place and they had a new product, they were now faced with a new problem. This new face shield is a retail product and the company was not really geared up for selling something like that. But nothing was going to stop the ingenuity, drive and American spirit of this Logan County company and their talented leaders and employees.
“Although retail sales was completely new to us, we reached out to business friends who built us a sales web site to support our initial advertising via social media and email. The web site has been continuously improved and has streamlined our order fulfillment process greatly in the last 2 weeks, ” said Wisniewski.
This resourceful crew at World Class Plastics is already working on a second personal protection product to sell to the public and organizations.
“Our next product launch is planned to be a face mask that can be used in the absence of N95 face masks that are generally in short supply. We are about 25% through the tool build process for 2 molds that will produce the face mask parts, and hope to be molding face masks within 2-3 weeks,” Wisniewski explained.
Orders for World Class Plastics, “hey don’t touch your face” face shields, made in Russells Point, Ohio can be place directly on their website at www.heydonttouchyourface.com or www.worldclassplastics.net.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.