SALT LAKE CITY — There’s the old saying, if life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.
With that in mind, a Salt Lake City business owner, who just a month ago was making mattresses, is now making face masks.
"Some of our suppliers are reaching out for us," said Schuyler Northstrom who owns Uinta Mattress. "They're essential businesses and they need them for the safety of their employees and so they've gone there."
They sell their products in about a 500 mile radius from Salt Lake City and earlier this year he moved the operation to this larger location from downtown Salt Lake.
But just as they were settling in, the stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus went into to affect, bringing production to a screeching halt.
They still make some mattresses for hospitals and pads for stretchers but Northstrom wanted to do something else in order to keep his staff employed.
With most of the material on hand, they began making face masks.
The biggest early drawback was waiting for elastic to be shipped, which is in high demand throughout the world.
Once they got it they made about 500 masks and hope to make about 5,000 more in the very near future.
And for right now he’s just giving them away.
"We're also donating a portion of our production to local non-profits, organizations, basically anyone who needs them," Northstrom said.
A longtime employee is the woman behind the sewing machine, one they actually had to purchase from a local Walmart, and the masks are made by hand.
The goal is to produce about one per minute to make it cost effective to give them away.
They are currently waiting to see if the masks are certified and compliant to be able to be worn by staff at local hospitals.
Northstrom is also giving masks away to his friends in the local business community.
He’s not set up for retail but says if anyone is in need of masks to contact him by email. Here is a link to the webpage.