LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A Henderson company transformed its manufacturing plant to help doctors, nurses and first responders around the valley during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Polar Shades started making masks last week with the only material they had available: window shades. Since then, they started using better material and are cranking out thousands of medical masks and gowns a day.
"All the area hospitals, they have nothing ... We were able to take a gown they provided and reverse engineer it do a CADD drawing of it and within 45 minutes we were cutting them on our table," said Polar Shades owner Steve Mevius,
Mevius said its a race against the clock to help the people who are helping everyone else.
"If they get sick, we’re in trouble."
The high-speed equipment inside Polar Shades usually cuts material for shades. Now it's cutting 84 gowns every four minutes, or about 12,000 a day.
Mevius' crews are also making two thousand surgical masks a day. He partnered with a firm in Henderson to do the sewing.
"We have actually four layers in here and then we send it over to them after we weld it, have them sew the edges, pleat it and put on the loops.
Volunteers at Polar Shades sew other masks for employees. While none of it is FDA approved, Mevius said he show the product to local doctors.
"They’ve approved it. Comprehensive Cancer Care came and picked up some masks today. They’re very happy with it," said Mevius.
Masks and gowns from made by Polar Shades were also donated to the UNLV drive-through testing site and the Quick Care on W. Sahara.
Back at the stop, 3D printers are perfecting N95 respirators. Each one has an interchangeable filter to make it reusable.
"It’s a game changer," said Mevius.
All the changes at Polar Shades are costly.
"We bought $50,000 worth of material to make gowns that came out of our pocket."
Mevius said they’ve had help from companies like Thrive Industries and the city of Henderson. They’re not trying to profit during the pandemic.
"We’re a shade manufacturer, we want to get back to making shades. But until we know that everyone has the equipment to be safe we’ve got a job to do ... This is our home, if we don't take care of it, who will?"