- On June 15, 2020
Shout Out 2.0 Goes to Merrow Manufacturing
By Lisa Derby Oden, Project Development Coordinator, MassMEP
Our gratitude goes to Merrow Manufacturing, headquartered in Fall River, MA.
Get to know Merrow Manufacturing LLC you will discover that they are a diverse manufacturing organization that has been part of the New England landscape for 180 years. They are currently managed by 8th generation brothers, Owen and Charlie Merrow. At Merrow’s 255000 square foot facility, you’ll find 500 sewing machines that provide them with the capacity to design and build technical soft goods. They have the capacity to mass-produce nearly any soft good and specialize in Berry-compliant, USA-based production of knit and woven products. CEO Charlie Merrow shares the organization’s vision on their website, “Hard work and ingenuity drive our success, but it’s our aspiration to be the most respected, trusted, and innovative company in our industry that sets us apart.”
When COVID-19 hit, Merrow Manufacturing amplified its vision to quickly become the largest producer of US-sourced PPE. They formed a new medical division that is fully compliant with FDA rules and regulations and pivoted to manufacture reusable and disposable PPE equipment. The new product line includes nine items that consist of surgical caps, gators, and five medical and isolation gowns. The company projects that it will produce up to 4 million PPE items in the next several months with contracts to supply more than 85 hospitals and private healthcare facilities. Other entities beyond major hospital systems where PPE is critical to operations that are also impacted are assisted living facilities, dentist offices, health clinics, PT, and mental health facilities around the country.
Merrow Manufacturing is one of the companies that participated in Massachusetts’ Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (M-ERT) program. If selected under this program, manufacturers were able to reopen their facilities to produce PPE and were eligible for funding, advice and other resources to produce protective equipment. Merrow Manufacturing did not take funding, but did receive advice and is fulfilling orders for the state. Merrow has made an investment of roughly $5 million to meet the new production needs and will be creating an estimated 900 jobs in 4-5 manufacturing plants in the Northeast region.
Ask Charlie Merrow for his insight into the COVID-19 issue and he states, “There are many many layers of this. There are some big problems that are surfacing. This thing is moving really quickly so we need to ask ‘What is the tense moment now?’ MA can show thought leadership around some of these problems. I’ll give you an example. I’m in discussions about fabric research, and I’m talking to school systems about preparing for the fall. These two things are something MA can do that no one else is doing. MA unlike anywhere else has the horsepower to create a significant impact in thinking about what these real-life supply chain issues are and how innovation impacts it. There is going to be a major problem with children going back to school in the fall. MA can be the place that thinks about that and does something, that is not going to be a perfect solution, but is versions of solutions to find something that can work really well.”
Demonstrating how quickly things move, Charlie continues, “We haven’t been building masks commercially because so many others are doing that, but in the past few days, I’ve created masks for a few friends. I started out with Merrow Made masks, and then to support things that are going on I created Black Lives Matter masks. We believe that the protests are relevant and that people need to be healthy and need to be able to make statements. This is a contemporary problem and if we are going to support having a voice, we need to be safe about it and approach it a little differently. For every mask that is ordered, we are donating one mask to NAACP and Black Lives Matters.”
In closing, Charlie adds, “It’s really important that people stay healthy and stay safe. Merrow is part of a group of companies that are sharing a message that we need to be vigilant. We all need to share in the responsibility of staying safe over the next few months. This is a crisis that isn’t going to disappear on its own magic and it’s up to everybody to recognize that it has serious implications. A lot of people are going to have a hard time. We need to work together to stay safe and work through it.”
To learn more about Merrow Manufacturing, visit their website at www.merrowmfg.com.
Thank you Merrow Manufacturing for your vision, ability to pivot, generations of being part of the Massachusetts and US manufacturing ecosystem, and impact providing PPE across the country.