Bill Whitter from MEP helped our company to pivot during the worst pandemic in history. Bill connected us with Devin McNeil, CEO of Flowfold, and we immediately partnered with Flowfold to make PPE. This allowed us to not only retain our employees, but we add an additional 15 employees to our organization. During the most challenging times we have ever faced Alfred’s Upholstery & Co. was able to survive and be profitable. The passion and commitment Bill and MEP have for Maine small businesses is an amazing asset for all Maine businesses!
Bill Whittier, part of Maine MEP and the MEP National Network™, contacted Alfred’s Upholstery initially to work on finding suitable non-woven materials for the manufacture of face coverings. Together Alfred’s and MEP located a solution for this problem and furnished other Maine manufacturers with rolls of high-tech fabric used for keeping expensive on-deck yacht components dry and mildew free – a perfect match for mask making. The focus then turned to how to keep Alfred’s 17 employees working.
MEP was working concurrently with Flowfold, a manufacturer of minimalist wallets and outdoor gear, to develop a face shield product. Flowfold had access to an abundant supply of clear, lightweight plastic and was quickly able to secure contracts with the State of Maine, hospital systems and school districts. In addition, Flowfold was quick to get product up on their e-commerce site and Amazon. Within two weeks there was demand for 500,000 face shields. This was way beyond Flowfold’s capacity and Devin McNeill, Flowfold’s CEO, turned to Maine MEP. Within hours Bill had the two companies on the phone and within one-week Alfred’s was manufacturing face shields. Each week during the six-month engagement Alfred’s production increased to the point that they were making 30,000 face shields a week. Flowfold’s shield sales surpassed 1 million before slowing.