ColorWorks participates in gown manufacturing amid COVID-19 pandemic

Published 3:34 pm Thursday, April 30, 2020

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An essential business in Elizabethton is helping aid in combating shortages of personal protective equipment.
ColorWorks Inc., a division of Ocean State Innovations, works in dyeing textiles, coating and finishing. Much of the work usually done at the factory involves nylon, parachutes, etc. for the military and government, however, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, they are now participating in a three-step process in gown manufacturing. The first step is weaving materials at Schneider Mills in Taylorsville, N.C., followed by being prepared at ColorWorks and finally shipping to areas where gowns are officially cut out and created.
Sam Buchanan, president of ColorWorks, said this story begins with new ownership of the company, which was recently purchased by Ed Ricci and Ben Galpen of Ocean State Innovations.
“Our owners are from Rhode Island and Massachusetts,” he said. “They just recently purchased us at the beginning of the year. They’re from those areas, and they’re having a shortage of gowns up there. They stepped up and said they would help out. Since they’re our owners, it was a perfect fit because we could prepare the goods and get them ready.”
Buchanan said they are shipping around 700,000 yards a month, which are being sent to places like California, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, where there are shortages.
While working in this essential industry, Buchanan said employees are following CDC guidelines of social distancing and have been given masks to wear during work. He also praised the teamwork of the 110 employees at the facility.
“It makes them feel better to know they’re doing a part to help something else out,” he said. “Everybody is a little skeptical at first, then when they found out we were actually doing something to help the cause, everyone stepped up. They’re working more days, longer hours. We have a really great team here that, you know, works together.”
Buchanan said that it is unknown how long this work will continue, however it will most likely be as long as there will be a need.
In describing why he wanted to share this story, Buchanan said he wanted to celebrate his employees and their work.
“We have one of the best teams here in Carter County,” he said. “Their work is greatly appreciated. The employees that work here really just deserve some recognition for what they’re doing. It’s a difficult time, but they come to work every day knowing what they could be exposed to.”

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