SALT LAKE CITY — These are tough economic times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One Salt Lake business owner, who just a month ago was making mattresses, is now making facemasks.
Earlier this year, Schuyler Northstrom, who owns Uinta Mattress, moved the operation to a 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 effect, bringing production to a halt.
They still make some mattresses for hospitals and pads for stretchers, but Schuyler wanted to do something else in order to keep his staff employed.
With most of the material on hand, they began making facemasks.
Be says the biggest drawback early on was waiting for elastic to be shipped in, 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 want to keep our people safe, we want to keep them employed, and for me, I’m just trying to cover our costs so I can pay my employees. We can’t wait for the government to give us all the money in the world, so if we can subsidize that with the masks, that’s what we’re going to do," he 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.
Schuyler 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, they can contact him through uintamattress.com