Crummer Alumni Collaborate to Provide Personal Protective Equipment to Frontline Workers
Ian and Candy Cole `10MBA of the Maker Foundation, partnered up with Sean Marrero and Greg Meloon `10MBA of Watershed Innovation and Nautique to provide over 30,000 units of PPE to workers on the frontlines.
Shortly after COVID-19 was declared a national pandemic, it became abundantly clear that the nation was dealing with a shortage of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
As explained by Crummer operations professor Dr. Keenan Yoho, many pieces of critical medical equipment have been outsourced to China. So, because China’s economy was slowed tremendously by the COVID-19 virus, exports were disrupted, causing our PPE shortage.
When Ian and Candy Cole of the Maker Effect Foundation in Orlando caught wind of the shortage, they immediately deployed their resources to develop a plan for how they could help.
The Maker Effect Foundation exists to activate and amplify the efforts of makers to build and work together in their communities.
That network of creative minds, with expertise in innovative problem solving, design thinking and job creation was the perfect mix to help solve the PPE shortage in Orlando.
Upon the outbreak, people in Central Florida started making masks, 3D printing and creating things to help solve the shortage. However, was there was no strategy behind it, and the healthcare organizations couldn’t accept the contributions without following the specific PPE protocols.
That’s where the Maker Effect Foundation stepped in.
“We had to slow down and make a plan for this,” said Candy Cole. “We found out what the healthcare organizations need, the design they liked, what they don’t like and why.”
Ian and Candy built a model, organized pick-up and drop-off locations and then built a team to execute the plan. The volunteers in the Maker Effect Foundation coalesced and got to work.
“We host an event called the Maker Fair Orlando that has roughly 16,000 people and a 100-volunteer crew, along with 200-300 other volunteers,” explained Ian Cole. “When COVID-19 happened, we saw an opportunity to activate that network that already knows how to communicate with each other. We just fell into our natural roles, and within days, we had a crew working on this.”
Linking with Crummer Colleagues
Very quickly, Ian and Cole faced challenges with mass-producing PPE for front-line healthcare workers.
After receiving a generous donation of nearly 12,000 pounds of plastic from Coke Florida, they needed a way to break that down in a way to turn it into masks. The plastic was given to them wrapped up in 1,700-pound spools; that wasn’t getting moved without some serious equipment.
“We are a bunch of local makers in the community and are able to figure stuff out, but we really shouldn’t be lifting 1,700-pound things,” said Ian Cole.
Harkening back to his Crummer days, Ian called on former classmates, Greg Meloon, President of Nautique, and Sean Marrero, President of Watershed Innovation.
As one of the premier boating manufacturers in the country, Correct Craft, which owns Nautique and Watershed Innovation, is quite familiar with lifting items nearing two tons.
“I told them, what a coincidence, we lift things that are that weight all the time,” said Marrero. “Our team really wanted to help since we have such a capable workforce with a lot of equipment that can be utilized to help make masks.”
Marrero’s team was able to get through all the plastic within three days.
“We were happy to play the middle man role on this, breaking the plastic down to get them out to smaller shops,” he said.
Marrero and Meloon’s contributions didn’t end there.
Orlando Health provided the team with material for cloth-based masks, and the Nautique factory already has an upholstery shop for the boats they build.
“We borrowed sewing machines and used our CNC fabric cutter to help make the mask material,” said Marrero.
The partnership between The Maker Effect Foundation and Correct Craft has helped provide over 30,000 face shields and 9,000 masks to front-line workers across Central Florida.
A History of Giving Back
Helping ensure that Central Florida did not fall behind on PPE was not the first time that the Maker Effect Foundation and Correct Craft linked up.
“As a nonprofit, a lot of our Crummer family members support our nonprofit and have for years, so this is not a new relationship,” said Candy Cole.
The Coles say not only did Crummer help provide them an education, it provided them with a strong community of leaders who continually help support their nonprofit’s mission.
Candy also points out that late Crummer operations professor, Dr. James Gilbert would be very proud of them working to create a supply chain for PPE in Central Florida, identifying the bottlenecks and working together to move the goods efficiently.
“Ian and Candy deserve a lot of credit for all they’ve done to make these connections,” said Marrero. “We are always happy to support our fellow classmates.”
Ian says it’s a two-way relationship, oftentimes bouncing ideas off of each other.
“Over the past decade, about once a year there’s something that comes up, and I reach out to ask if they want to get involved; if Sean think of something he will call me,” said Ian Cole. “Those are the kind of relationships that are built from the Crummer experience.”