Bauer Hockey is doing its part to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. With no hockey currently in play across North America, one of the largest hockey gear production companies worldwide has shifted its focus to the creation of medical visors/facial shields.
Now, as opposed to protecting hockey players’ faces from pucks, sticks, skates and elbows, one particular Bauer production facility in Blainville – a northwestern suburb of Montreal – hopes that its idea of creating medical shields will help to protect paramedics, firefighters, doctors, nurses, surgeons, lab techs, chemists and pharmacists in the coming days/weeks.
“We took a week to put ideas on the table and study them,” said Bauer Vice President of Product Innovation Dan Bourgeois, in an interview with RDS. “We had several options, but the option of designing visors was the best. Our specialists designed molds to create the prototypes which we presented to an in-house doctor. We wanted to test the safety and comfort levels of our visor, which resembles a mask normally used to perform welding work. We have refined our visor and arrived with the model that we are ready to produce. These current masks would be single-use, but we are continuing our development work to create another one that would be safe for repeated use.”
Under direct orders from the government, the Blainville production location in Quebec has now ceased hockey visor production, while the majority of staff have been in limbo waiting for further direction, despite not being officially laid off. Other staff, including research and development specialists have been working from home during the pandemic. The attention around the plant has shifted its focus to pumping out upwards of 10,000 medical shields. Bourgeois states that the operating plant has the material to create the shields, but only has the man power to produce roughly 2,000 per day.
“We have contacted Quebec government officials to tell them about our project,” Bourgeois added during his interview. “We are awaiting their authorization and will be ready to begin formal production as soon as we are given the go-ahead. We could deliver our first visors as early as next week (late March).”
Members of the Montreal police force, firefighters, paramedics and medical wards have reached out with positive praise for this proposed project, which began as a pipedream at a joint staff meeting surrounding the early stages of the Coronavirus spread. Montreal Police has already inquired on the possibility of acquiring 50,000 shields, should Bauer receive the green light.
“If the demand increases, we will of course be able to call back more of our employees, that’s our goal,” Bourgeois said. “We want to keep as many employees working as possible while waiting for our usual production to resume. The research and development work was carried out in the normal course of our operations. I do not know how many masks we will be called upon to produce, but our initial financial objective is simple: We want to cover our estimated $6 per visor production costs. We want to respond as quickly as possible to the first orders to demonstrate that we can be efficient in both the production and distribution of our product and especially that our visor is of excellent quality.”
For over 80 years, Bauer has made a name for itself producing high quality skates, sticks, and visors, amongst every other piece of hockey equipment imaginable. The company also has a hefty line of clothing and attire, to go along with equipment accessories widely available for purchase. The Canadian company first set up shop in Kitchener, Ontario in 1927. The first one-piece Bauer hockey skate was created in 1933. Bauer’s main office and headquarters are situated in New Hampshire.