- On September 10, 2020
Shout Out 2.0 Goes to Lacerta Group, Inc.
A salute to Lacerta Group, Inc. for its part in the fight against COVID-19. Headquartered in Mansfield, MA, Lacerta produces thermoformed plastic packaging for food, cosmetics, consumer, medical, electronic parts, and more. The company is a family-owned business and was founded in 1993 by two brothers, Ali and Mory, and their cousin, Mostafa. Their founding focus was on offering high-quality, innovative thermoformed packaging solutions that were competitively priced. The concept of innovation as part of their underlying market approach is what led them into the COVID-19 response. Because of the shortages of much-needed protective-ware, Lacerta developed a Face Shield as a humanitarian effort for hospitals, healthcare workers, along with other industries impacted like grocery. To date, they have shipped over 7 million masks.
Talk to Ali Lotfi, President of Lacerta Group, and you will discover that the company’s market approach has provided them with the ability to pivot quickly. “Our ability to respond to customer needs quickly is a result of lots of resources in the house – our design capability, mold and tool making, production of plastics, extrusion of sheets. We can ramp up quickly to support the need of the market. My cousin received a request for PPE from a local hospital, and we had a prototype in a day or two. From there we made adjustments, tooled up in less than a week, and quickly got to the production of 300,000 – 400,000 face shields per day. We shipped the tool to our CA facility so they could produce them there also. We sent the design to a sister company in Mexico, and sent a tool to a supplier in Honduras also.”
When asked about bright spots during the challenging times of COVID-19, Ali shares, “Early on we donated a lot of face shields to hospitals, fire and police departments, and homes for the elderly. It was really inspiring to see how grateful everyone was to get these. We have gotten many letters saying how thankful the recipients have been. When this first started, people just couldn’t get these so to be able to help means a lot. And our employees have been excited to be part of helping to fight COVID-19. They have made a great effort to be at work to do their part.”
“Challenges have revolved around not knowing what the market needs and when,” Ali continues. “In the beginning, everyone was scrambling as we had to shift our extrusion capacity from regular production to that for face shields. Then we had to find the right material and got our supply from lots of places. When you are producing up to 400,000 face shields each day, you can quickly get over a million pieces in inventory and then don’t know if you will be able to move them or not. There are lots of competing designs. We get calls that come in looking for a million face shields, and then we don’t know if they are actually going to place that order or not.”
“The FDA came out and said they didn’t have guidelines as long as certain materials that were safe for contact were used. The institutions and organizations that are looking for face shields are looking for a validated process and/or FDA approval, and there is no such requirement at this point. We haven’t had a chance to do third party validation testing yet. We have been working with MA General who has done a great deal of testing. They have provided us with a letter that states they have been using it. That situation has been challenging, because with no standards what is the basis to be used for testing?”
As for the future, Ali believes that face masks will be a bigger market than face shields. From a production high of over 7 million face shields in May to June where they did a lot less, they see that number trending down. Lacerta Group will remain ready to produce the face shields that are needed and can respond within a day. Ali closes, “This is a serious situation that we have been able to step up and help. We have been able to provide resources to our employees to provide a safe place for them to come to as we continue to support the market. We hope COVID-19 ends quickly.”
To learn more about Lacerta Group, Inc., visit www.lacerta.com.
Our appreciation goes to Lacerta Group for meeting the COVID-19 challenge face-to-face!