Made in South Florida: 2 local companies are helping fill PPE, disinfecting wipe shortage

(WSVN) - After the COVID pandemic led to a mass shortage of personal protective equipment, two manufacturing companies stepped up to fill the need. 7’s Kevin Ozebek takes a look at how these essential products are being “Made in South Florida.”

An N95 mask is the gold standard of PPE. As the COVID pandemic struck the United States, the demand for them skyrocketed.

Luis Arguello Jr., vice president, DemeTech Corp: “What we found was that most people couldn’t access a good mask.”

Face masks are not the only thing people needed to protect themselves. The rush for sanitizing and antibacterial wipes left store shelves empty for weeks at a time.

7News went inside two Miami-Dade manufacturing companies that are helping to fill the country’s personal protective equipment shortage.

Luis Arguello Jr.: “We traditionally made wound care devices, like sutures, hernia mesh and endoscopic devices.”

DemeTech flipped from making surgical and medical devices, to three-layer face masks and N95s approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Luis Arguello Jr.: “This is the body of the mask.”

Kevin Ozebek: “That’s an N95?”

Luis Arguello Jr.: “This is an N95 cup in the first stage.”

DemeTech’s Miami Lakes and Doral factories produce millions of masks each day. It’s an expensive project.

Luis Arguello Jr.: “The company’s model right now is not about being profitable, but it’s about solving a problem that the American culture has, which is our PPE isn’t made here.”

Company vice president Luis Arguello Jr. says it may cost only pennies to manufacture masks overseas, but his are FDA approved. Because of the high quality, his biggest customer is the federal government.

Luis Arguello Jr.: “Ultimately, you get what you pay for. Most importantly with the masks is, they all may look the same, but they’re not.”

Inside this DemeTech factory, it’s hard to find anything imported. The machines, they designed and made themselves. These raw materials come from Tennessee and Georgia. The boxes they use, they’re made just five miles down the road by another local company.

Raj Prakash, CEO, Anthem United States of Beauty: “Our products are found in literally every single store that you can walk into in the U.S.”

Medley-based Anthem United States of Beauty produces cosmetic and skin care wet wipes. When the pandemic hit South Florida, the company received approval to use the materials it already has to make disinfecting wipes.

Raj Prakash: “Helps kill COVID-19, 99.9%, and that was the number one goal, to continue making more and more disinfecting wipes to keep people safe.”

Anthem rolls out 50 million disinfecting wipes a day. CEO Raj Prakash says the factory has had to quickly expand in order to meet the growing need.

Raj Prakash: “Right now, we are keeping up with the demand, as we have added lines, added shifts and continuously hired people.”

Both manufacturing companies say it’s more expensive to make these products in our backyard than to import from abroad, but they say you’re paying for strict quality control, research and development, and living wages for these South Florida factory workers.

Luis Arguello Jr.: “We want to create jobs and want to be able to have people raise up in the economic ladder, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to build back up the middle class in this country.”

They believe they can make it happen by providing quality PPE that’s all made in South Florida.

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