April 22, 2024

Ashby-based firm joins COVID-19 fight

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A group of Ashby businessmen are investing in keeping people safe during the COVID-19 crisis. Craig Koefod, brother-in-law Craig Grover, and Scott LaRue, all Ashby natives, are the co-owners of Excel Plastics, LLC, a manufacturer of point of purchase displays for visual merchandising. But, starting last week, they turned their Fergus Falls production line over to making plastic face shields for medical staff dealing with COVID-19 patients.

Excel Plastics has partnered with Greater Fergus Falls (GFF) and Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) to produce these and other personal protective equipment, such as sneeze guards for clerks working at sales counters.

Not only are the three partners from Ashby, but many of the production staff are from Ashby as well. Excel employs over 100 people in its Fergus Falls and two Minneapolis locations.

Hospitals across the country are scrambling for the basic medical supplies needed to treat COVID-19 patients and to protect their workforce. “It’s inevitable that our entire enterprise, including LRH, Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services (PRHHS), and Mill Street Residence (MSR), will experience a critical shortfall of supplies and medical equipment if COVID-19 cases continue to rise,” according to LRH interim CEO, Kent Mattson. “We appreciate the quick and responsive action by our local manufacturers, such as Excel Plastics, to help us and the community meet our local demands given the international shortages,” he added.

Soon after being contracted by GFF’s Annie Deckert, Excel Plastics had a prototype shield, and is well on its way to manufacturing 4,000 of the protective shields.

“As a local, family-owned business, we pride ourselves not only on making great products, but also in the way we care for our employees and our community. We are privileged to help in any way we can,” Koefod said.

In these unprecedented times, partnership between our regional hospital system and private businesses is crucial. As the strain on the supply chain tightens, rapid production on local levels must ramp up. If your business can manufacture PPE items such as surgical or isolation gowns, surgical masks, face shields, or hand sanitizer, please contact Greater Fergus Falls at 218-321-2079 or for additional information.

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