The Association of Washington Business honors the Shields operations of Novolex in Yakima, Wash. for repurposing its equipment to produce protective gowns during the pandemic
HARTSVILLE, S.C. — Oct. 8, 2020 — Novolex®, a leader in packaging choice, sustainability and innovation, has been named the winner of the 2020 Manufacturing Excellence Award for Innovation.
The award, presented by the Association of Washington Business (AWB), honors the operations of Shields, a Novolex brand located in Yakima, Wash., for retooling its manufacturing capabilities to produce protective isolation gowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using sophisticated equipment, the Shields plant normally produces food packaging and containers at its Washington facilities in Yakima. But after the pandemic hit, the company quickly repurposed its equipment to manufacture medical isolation gowns, which have been among the most urgently needed types of personal protective equipment (PPE) and in short supply.
“When we learned there was a critical need for PPE, we immediately got to work adapting our facilities to produce medical gowns,” said Scott Houtz, Regional Manufacturing Director of Novolex. “We’re very honored to receive this award, and we’re incredibly proud to help protect the many frontline workers who continue to protect all of us.”
AWB President Kris Johnson presented the award virtually during the association’s 2020 Manufacturing Week web broadcast this week.
“Novolex is a great example of how Washington manufacturers responded during a time of need and quickly adapted their production facilities,” Johnson said. “In March, Shields Bag in Yakima – operated by Novolex – responded to a call from AWB asking our manufacturing members for help. We sent out a call asking for manufacturers that could retool their operations to make PPE like masks, gowns, face shields and other gear. By May, Novolex’s nearly 1,000 employees in Yakima had ramped up to produce a million isolation gowns per week using equipment that had been used to make bags for tortillas and other food products.
“It was an incredible response during an unprecedented time and we’re proud to recognize Novolex for their contributions to our state and nation,” Johnson added.
The Innovation Award was the first of four Manufacturing Excellence Awards that AWB is announcing this week www.MFGisWA.org. Novolex is also one of three finalists for the Operational Excellence Award.
Novolex develops and manufactures diverse packaging and food service products that touch nearly every aspect of daily life for multiple industries ranging from grocery, food packaging, restaurant and retail to medical applications and building supplies. The Novolex family of brands provides customers innovative paper and plastic solutions for their business needs today while investing in research and development to engineer more sustainable choices for the future. With more than 10,000 employee families, Novolex operates 61 manufacturing centers and administrative offices in North America and Europe, including two world-class plastic film recycling facilities. To learn more about Novolex, visit www.Novolex.com.
About the Association of Washington Business
Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes nearly 7,000 members representing 700,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing and Microsoft, 92 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit www.awb.org.