Numerous companies throughout the state of Michigan are helping to fight the dramatic impact of COVID-19. Together, the Cadillac Products companies, headquartered in Troy Michigan, are an example of this great humanitarian effort. The Williams family, leaders of Cadillac Products Automotive Company and Cadillac Products Packaging Company are pooling their deep talents, capabilities and even their factories by manufacturing and providing much needed medical personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line doctors and nurses.
These fourth generation, family-owned, Michigan-based organizations have a long history of producing plastic films, packaging, and various engineered acoustic, thermal and aero insulating components for the automotive, military and other industries.
Their history dates back to WWII, when Cadillac Products provided war materials to the US Government. Today, among many other materials, Cadillac Products produces films that are comparable to specifications required for protective medical gowns used by doctors, nurses and technicians, treating those infected by the devastating Coronavirus.
Having this capability, Robert Williams Jr., President and CEO of Cadillac Products Packaging Company, and in discussions with his daughter Maggie Williams, a CRNA at Sinai Grace Hospital in Detroit, came up with the idea to utilize available raw materials and idle factory capacity to produce medical gown material.
Together with his brother Michael Williams II, Chairman of Cadillac Products Automotive Company, the two companies are taking the film and using Cadillac Products Automotive tooling, talents and people to convert this film into much needed gowns.
This has not been an easy task, however the might of the organization and the company’s cultural determination to help has driven a group of highly talented and experienced engineers, technicians, machine operators and other members of Cadillac Products staff to adapt current automotive production equipment for the effort. Raw material was expedited. Dow stepped up and provided much needed resin.
“Hospitals in Michigan and around the country are in need of large quantities of gowns and other supplies to help with the fight against COVID-19. Helping provide the materials to make these gowns is one of the many ways Dow is working with customers and other organizations to provide essential items for hospitals on the front lines”, said Michelle Boven, Global Marketing director for Dow’s Health & Hygiene market.
Tooling and other needed equipment was designed and manufactured, taking into consideration the challenge of sizing mismatch between machinery and gown dimensions. Mike Williams III, Cadillac Products Automotive Company’s General Manager, has overseen the effort of process design and production from the beginning, channeling all the volunteer effort to ensure a high-quality finished product can be brought forward.
As Mike Williams III stated, “I’m extremely proud of how quickly our team responded to this manufacturing challenge. We definitely don’t have the optimum machines for making gowns, but we have machines and people that can make gowns. All our team members were excited to help, working through the weekends to bring our capability online. It’s great that we have such a capable team that can make a difference in this time of need.”
Numerous Cadillac Products facilities are involved in this production. Polyethylene film is being produced at Cadillac Products’ Paris, (Illinois) plant. Multiple plants around the metro Detroit area of Michigan are involved in the conversion of film to finished good. Gown shapes are cut out on a repurposed production machine in Roseville and taken to Troy to have the sleeves heat-sealed and the gown packaged in boxes.
“This would have been a lot harder without the support of our key suppliers. Asking for help once, and help arriving right on time is exactly what these companies do for us normally. Having them step up and deliver in this difficult time doesn’t surprise me. It also is a lot faster working as UCC [Universal Container] has donated boxes. Stevens Custom Fabrication of Alpena donated custom heat-seal bars and Rupp Engineering in Fraser [Michigan] worked through the weekend with us on design and fabrication of tooling. These are great family owned companies.” said Mike Williams III.
Currently utilizing volunteer labor to produce over 300 finished gowns per hour, “Our first run of 500 gowns was completed and sent to Sinai Grace Hospital on April 5th”, states Michael Williams II. The second run arrived on April 8th. To date, we’ve delivered 2,600 gowns. Michael Williams II further states, “We have additional polyethylene resin, donated by Dow Chemical, on its way, which will allow an additional 8,600 gowns to be produced and donated. We are excited to be able to help. Many of our people have worked so hard and for so many hours to make this come to be.”