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Adding a New Twist

June 5, 2020
Production shift sets stage for plastic twist tie manufacturer to kickstart future plans.

Bedford Industries normally manufactures plastic twist ties for bread and produce bags, but once COVID-19 spotlighted immediate some needs, the firm nimbly shifted to making face shields for medical professionals.

The 55-year old family-owned company started by prototyping both a complete medical mask and face shield and found that its manufacturing expertise was better suited to just making shields. Demand surged rapidly and Bedford is now making 150K per day for a wide array of customers including local fire departments, nursing homes and grocery stores – all of which now find themselves on the front lines of a pandemic containment effort.

“Once we made the decision to start manufacturing face shields, we wanted to get them to market quickly to meet the need for PPE. But while we had a good foundation of products that allowed us to pivot operations, we weren’t set up from a sales standpoint for the high demand we inevitably experienced,” says Jay Milbrandt, president at Bedford Industries. “For our typical clients it was fine to have our sales team field calls during business hours, but for this situation it was completely different. We were dealing with an entirely new audience and a method to go to market.”  

According to Milbrandt, launching an online store was on the company’s roadmap for the future, but because it is predominately a wholesale business it was not an immediate need. “That was until this pandemic started. Once orders for our face shields started coming in, we were getting inundated with calls 24/7 from both traditional and new customers such as nursing homes, grocery stores, first responders, hospitals/medical centers and meat processors,” he says. Bedford was already in the process of transitioning from a home-grown ERP system to NetSuite, but with this new pivot, they added an ecommerce store to the mix.

“The whole experience has shown us how nimble we can be as a business, quickly adapting in the best and worst of conditions. Throughout this process, we’ve learned that we have the capabilities and tools to make products similar to our core offerings that fit well within the channels we already serve as well as extend the base of clientele we do business with,” he says. “One of our core competencies as a company is trying our best to be as flexible as possible and identify new opportunities that align to our mission. This move to manufacturing face shields was a perfect example.”  

Milbrandt tells IndustryWeek, the current environment has helped accelerate changes the company wanted to make but didn’t think it had the time do or had been putting off for the future. “We’ve been able to develop new tools and resources throughout this experience that we’ll draw from as we launch new products or implement new processes in the future,” he says.

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