Entrepreneurs band together to produce personal protection equipment for area hospitals

Local News

PEORIA, Ill (WMBD) — Personal protective equipment, essential for nurses and doctors on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Multiple small businesses are playing an active part in the fight against COVID-19.

“Three weeks ago I didn’t even know what a paper hood was,” said Jeremy Zobrist.

Jeremy Zobrist who owns Top Fox Snacks a freeze-dried food company, and Robert Herrmann, C.E.O. of EHS Solutions were approached by a local hospital to assist in making hoods that protect nurses and doctors fighting this pandemic.

“This is the community that I was born and raised in, and obviously we are in the healthcare space as a business, so we kind of recognize the challenge that they are facing,” Herman said.

“That’s when it really hit home to me is that’s a lot of people that I really love who are on the frontlines of this,” said Zobrist.

Their two businesses, along with other connections, are helping assemble, produce and ship the hoods to hospitals such as OSF HealthCare.

“Probably the biggest question through this whole process is how many do we make. So, OSF has been a really key partner in this, so they basically said, if you can help us, we will buy 5,000. That was enough to kind of cover our costs,” said Herrmann.

In just three weeks, the two men and their partners figured out the process.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my business career,” said Zobrist.

“We sent that to OSF and said will this work to get you through the current pinch, and they said yeah that would work, so at that point we decided to start hitting production,” said Herrmann.

Neither Herman or Zobrist’s companies have any experience in making hoods but saw this as an opportunity to give back.

“We are only interested in doing this for as long as it’s needed. It’s really not a long term plan. You know, we are a machinery company, we make equipment, the other businesses are not into this business. So, really it was a relief effort to kind of get this, to deal with the crisis for the moment,” said Herrmann.

“This is just one of those opportunities where we became aware of a need, got the word out and people jumped in,” said Zobrist.

Hoods have been sent to hospitals across at least seven states and the group plans to produce at least 20,000 hoods.

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