From versatile rapid testing to made-at-home mask production, two Calgary businesses have pivoted their business plans to provide help as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Alberta.
First Defence has been a distributor based in Calgary since 2015, and spent the early days of the pandemic importing medical supplies for organizations and companies that were beginning to adjust to the new normal.
However, CEO and founder Beau Taylor noticed there were very few companies manufacturing medical supplies in Canada.
“That’s kind of where the vision started,” Taylor said.
“How can we bring that supply chain back to Canada, where we’re employing hundreds of Canadians and bringing that money back to the Canadian economy.”
First Defence then pivoted part of its business model to start manufacturing masks, using materials sourced locally in Alberta.
According to Taylor, the masks’ filters are sourced through a company in Edmonton.
“Over the next couple of months, our plan is to bring even more of that supply: your earloops, the nose piece — those parts of the mask to be produced right here in Alberta,” Taylor said.
The company now produces 100,000 masks daily, with a goal of increasing production to half-a-million masks per day.
The effort is expected to create 150 jobs and bring more than $7 million to Alberta’s economy, Taylor said.
“That’s from the different raw materials that are being put into the mask, down to us producing them right here in Calgary,” he said.
The Calgary Chamber of Commerce said a number of businesses have been forced to pivot their business models due to disruption and uncertainty throughout the pandemic.
“Many have pivoted to offer their services online, found means to support their customers in creative ways and have demonstrated resiliency and adaptability,” the organization said in a statement.