A local powder coating company is ramping up its service to meet the demand for hospital beds in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Great Dane Powder Coating Inc. received two separate orders to coat a total of 8,000 hospital beds which will be shipped to New York and Michigan to assist in treating COVID-19.
While such orders are not unprecedented, owner Gary Lamolinara said that coating 8,000 hospital beds is fairly new territory for the Loyalhanna-based company.
“They aren’t normally hospital beds,” he said. “We normally do beds for the military, state institutions and universities.”
Lamolinara said the company received an order Monday from a southwestern Pennsylvania manufacturer to coat 4,000 beds by noon this past Friday, April 3.
“We should be able to hit our mark. We’ll have this order completed by 9 o’clock. We are going to be about three hours ahead of schedule,” he added earlier last week.
Powder coating is the process of applying a finely ground mixture of pigment and resin to metal, electrostatically. After curing in an oven, the resulting coating is much more durable.
Lamolinara said the company is able to coat roughly 1,000 beds per day.
“We are applying a functional coating to them. It’s a bed frame with springs on it. It’s more like a hospital cot with springs,” he said.
“We do the headboards, foot boards and the cot structure.”
The New York District of the Army Corps of Engineers recently completed its conversion of the 1.8 million-square-foot Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City into an alternate care facility for more than 2,000 non-COVID-19 patients, according to the US. Department of Defense.
Lamolinara said Friday’s order of beds will be shipped to the Javits Convention Center in New York City.
At the Loyalhanna facility, powder coating is applied to the bed frames and then packaged for final shipment to the customer.
“However, the headboards and the foot boards that we powder coat will be returned to the manufacturer for additional processing and assembly,” Lamolinara added.
The company received an order last Wednesday for an additional 4,000 beds headed to Michigan by next Friday, April 10.
“We’re in the process of trying to get enough raw material that we can put out another 4,000 beds by Good Friday,” he said.
However, Lamolinara said the company is having trouble getting raw material for the beds — including coating and steel.
“The next hold up is the raw material suppliers aren’t in production and it’s hurting (our) production,” he said.
The company has about a dozen employees working on orders.
“It’s a tall order for us to do. I gathered the entire team and crew together and explained to them the situation,” Lamolinara said. “And there were some team members who, for various reasons, needed to quarantine themselves... But we were able to pull together about 12 members of our existing crew that wanted to come out and contributed. I’m just very happy that they wanted to volunteer.”
Great Dane Powder Coating Inc. also received an order to coat 250 portable hand sanitizer dispensers from another southwestern Pennsylvania manufacturer to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
In Lamolinara’s 26 years as owner, he says the company has responded to the demands of its country before.
“During the Iraq War we got called upon to do beds for the military,” he said. “We have also done things for mine detection devices for the government during that period of time.”
Gov. Tom Wolf ordered March 19 that all non-life sustaining businesses close their businesses. Lamolinara is unsure whether his industry would have been affected.
“We probably would have been open, but this (opportunity) popped up and that’s where we put our effort in the last week,” he said.
He added that his company is happy to do its part given the “unique opportunity.”
“We’re thrilled to be able to help the country get through this. This is a big problem, and we’re doing everything we can to get those beds to New York and to Michigan as quickly as we possibly can,” he said. “It’s just as important to do this as it is to quarantine. It’s a great coming together of the country. Everybody has both their civic and patriotic duty to help the country get through this pandemic.”