Nike, New Balance factories will now make medical equipment instead

Mar 28, 2020

AS the United States becomes the country with the most cases of COVID-19 in the world (more than 101,000, with 1,588 reported deaths), US-based shoe manufacturers are rejiggering their manufacturing arms to churn out much-needed medical equipment.

Oregon-based shoe giant Nike told investors in a conference call that “[c]ompanies like Nike need to do our part,” reported Footwear News.

In the investor call, CEO John Donahoe said that the company has set up a “cross-functional team” to work with Oregon Health & Science University and figure out a way to use its factories to make personal protective equipment for health frontliners.

The team has started prototyping a face shield for nurses and doctors.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, New Balance announced: “Made shoes yesterday. Making masks today.”

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In a statement, the Boston-based company is leveraging “its skilled and innovative U.S. manufacturing workforce” to create face masks. It is testing prototypes in its flagship factory in Lawrence, Massachusetts, before scaling up to its other factories along the eastern seaboard.

New Balance has five manufacturing facilities within the United States.

Nike, which has a bigger global footprint, has manufacturing sites in around 40 countries around the world. In the United States, it has 41 apparel factories, according to their in-house manufacturing map.

Its CEO Donahoe, its chairman emeritus and founder Phil Knight, as well as other Nike executives personally pledged US $10 million for COVID-19 efforts last week.

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