Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 28

It's the first time in
my life the country
is depending on
textiles and cut-andsew-one of the last
bastions of old-school
manufacturing.
ADAM LAVA

A. LAVA & SON CO.

American Awning & Blind
in North Hollywood, Calif.,
is marketing its PPE masks
to local businesses. Photo:
American Awning & Blind Co.

general public, freeing up higher-grade
masks and respirators for medical and
frontline workers.
Lava & Son became a part of this
coalition through Beverly Knits Inc., one
of Lava's suppliers and a member of the
coalition. With 350 employees and 400,000
square feet in Chicago, and another 80,000
square feet in Haiti (jointly owned with
Culp Home Fashions), Lava churns out
thousands of masks per week.
The company donated 5,000 masks
to the Chicago Police Department and
sells directly to consumers and local
organizations through its website,
Naturally Nestled.
"We're trying to do our part, selling to
the U.S. government, but we also want
to help our local community," Lava says.
"Everyone is pitching in. Retirees are
whipping out their sewing machines."
According to Lava, the company's next
step is the development of digitally printed
polyester/spandex masks in partnership
with Springs Creative Products Group LLC.
The antiviral, antibacterial, water-repellent

masks will feature designs and logos,
making them ideal for medical and dental
offices, restaurants and other businesses.
KEEPING IT LOCAL
Relying on local connections and word
of mouth, smaller manufacturers are also
staying alive by pivoting to make PPE.
At American Awning & Blind Co., North
Hollywood, Calif., the 110-year-old
maker had shut down a few days before
California's major healthcare organization,
Kaiser Permanente®, put out a call for
community masks.
With a client list including hospitals,
restaurants, builders and Hollywood
studios, president Ethan Halpern decided
to market customized PPE masks to local
businesses. Calling back his team of 10
employees, he added additional sewing
machines and doubled the number of
sewers, now capable of producing "a couple
thousand masks per week," Halpern says.
The washable masks are made of two
layers of woven cotton with a pocket for a
disposable nonwoven filter. "Our sewers
just jumped into it," Halpern says. "They
had been making masks at home and came
up with the pattern. The design is not the
quickest to produce, but we wanted to do
the best job."
As the company does not have
automated cutting equipment, the
masks are cut by hand. "It's definitely a
learning curve," Halpern says. "We need
to streamline the process in order to scale
up production."
The company has sold a few hundred
masks on its website. Halpern hopes that
the masks may be an entryway to other
projects and government opportunities
and is looking into future potential for
vinyl enclosures and drop screens to protect
outdoor customers from contamination.
Tropical J's Inc., which supplies
shade and outdoor products to Honolulu,
Hawaii's commercial and residential
markets, also shut down following the

28 REVIEW AUGUST 2020

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7/21/20 4:47 PM



Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020

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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - Cover1
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 2
Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 3
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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 7
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