MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas (BP) — A chocolate factory owned by a couple of Southern Baptists is among the factories that have converted to make medical face shields to supply hospitals with personal protective equipment needed in the COVID-19 fight.
Michael and Angie Moss own Sweet Shop USA, the largest handmade chocolate manufacturer in the country, in Mount Pleasant, Texas. The company was founded in Fort Worth nearly 50 years ago before relocating to northeast Texas, and they supply thousands of retailers nationwide, including Nordstrom.
With the slowdown of sales at retail stores because of the coronavirus pandemic, Sweet Shop USA wasn’t receiving as many orders and had to lay off about 10 of their 80 employees. The Mosses, members of New Beginnings Baptist Church in Longview, were praying about what to do when they heard President Trump mention the Defense Production Act.
“My husband remembers his grandparents talking about World War II and how companies did other things during that time to meet needs in the supply chain,” Angie Moss told the TEXAN.
On March 20, Michael Moss woke up with an idea to make medical face shields. He contacted a vendor in New York who usually supplies the chocolate factory with packaging and asked if he could cut plastic shields with a die cut machine. The vendor told Moss he was planning to close his doors the following Monday because of a lack of orders, and he was delighted to have something to make, Angie Moss said.
Sweet Shop USA started spreading the word that the company would be able to supply face shields, and within hours hospitals in New York, Chicago and Seattle were interested, said Moss, who also serves as vice president of sales.
Six days after Michael Moss looked into the idea, the first face shields rolled off the converted assembly line. The Mosses’ college-age son planned to personally deliver 14 cases to a hospital in Tyler the next day “just to get them to them faster because they need them urgently,” Moss said.
“We presold in the first three days almost 300,000 facial shields,” she said, adding that many hospitals usually order from manufacturers overseas, such as in China, but the pandemic has severely disrupted those supply chains.
The face shields now produced at the chocolate factory are called “Waymaker,” Moss said, because Isaiah 43:16-19 has been important to them in recent days. The passage says in part, “Behold, I am doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the desert.”
To make the shields, Sweet Shop USA converted its packing area — 20,000 square feet of the 80,000 square feet facility. They set up tables “sort of like stations, and we’re trying to practice social distancing. They’ve got masks on too, trying to keep everybody safe,” Moss said.
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Source: Baptist Press