Indiana businesses hustle to fill need for personal protective equipment

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Businesses in Indiana are helping to distribute much needed personal protective equipment, or PPE, across the country.

They do not make the items, but they are trying to fill a need for PPE to keep people healthy and safe.

Employees of Indiana Safety & Supply in Washington, Indiana, are working around the clock at their warehouse. Sometimes, they clock in 12-hours days to keep up with the demand of their products.

"Six weeks ago, typical day would be 70 to 80 orders per day. We have seen spikes. Some days have done as many as 700," said Kevin Bush, president and CEO of Indiana Safety & Supply.

Kevin and his son, Austin, run the company. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, they typically sold protective equipment to factories and industrial sites.

That is now changing.

"Now we are really on the frontlines and providing solutions to frontline workers really across the United States, whether it is hospitals or workers out and about providing necessity such as electricity so on and so forth," said Austin.

The company sources PPE from factories across the country and Asia. Then hospitals or businesses contact them to buy the safety gear.

They are also making calls to Indiana hospitals to see if they want any of their products.

Hand sanitizer, wipes and surgical masks are coming in by the truck loads.

"To put it into perspective, like on surgical masks, I think we are up to somewhere between 55 and 60 million masks coming in over the next six to eight weeks," said Austin.

In Indianapolis, a branch of Piedmont Plastics is also on the frontlines.

They provide materials to manufacturers who are quickly making items like face shields and transparent barriers.

"It really drives home the value we bring to them, not only our customers but the community at large," said Noell May, branch manager.

Before, they sold material and parts to a variety of industries, like boat manufacturers and retail.

Now, they are helping people stay healthy.

"We are just happy to be a part of helping the greater Indianapolis community through this," said May.

It is a bittersweet moment for some as they make a profit during these troubling times. But they are relieved their products will hopefully help slow down the spread.

"We would rather go back to the world we knew pre-coronavirus and not go through this, obviously, but we will do all we can," said Kevin.

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