Electric boat factory making COVID-19 masks, shields

Correct Craft, the parent company of Nautique boats and Watershed Innovation, is now making COVID-19 masks and shields, helping protect frontline healthcare workers in the company’s home state of Florida.

Last time Plugboats wrote about Nautique and Watershed we were congratulating them on the launch of their new all-electric wakeboard and ski boats at the Seattle and Miami Boat Shows. Now congratulations and thanks go to everyone for stepping up and helping during this time.

As Watershed President Sean Marrero said “We have capabilities not everyone has, so we’re happy to share those for the greater good and hopefully make a difference.” Nautique President Greg Meloon added that “After we can get those masks out to people, we’ll be ready to refocus when the world is ready to get back on boats.”

Facilities converted to making COVID-19 masks

Correct Craft has a huge manufacturing complex in Orlando and is one of the city’s key employers. The video below, by Clay Lepard of  local TV station WKMG News 6, highlights how the upholstery section of the Nautique factory has switched to making protective COVID-19 masks and Watershed Innovation is helping in a community effort to create face shields using 3D printers.

For the masks, the Orlando Health Department reached out to Nautique when another company said they could provide the special medical fabric needed to protect the healthcare workers, but there was no capacity in their supply chain to get it sewn into masks.

COVID-19 masks and shields a community effort

At Watershed the company answered the call in a different but equally important way. Orlando Open Source Medical Supplies and The Maker Effect Foundation knew there are hundreds of companies and home ‘makers’ that could help create face shields using 3D printers, so they created a list on facebook of needed supplies.

Workers cut plastic for COVID-19 masks and 3D printed shields Coca-Cola Florida donated the plastic for the shields in rolls of 1,700 pounds but needed a facility and machinery that could maneuver these rolls. Enter Watershed Innovation.The facility usually assembles electric motors and is used to managing large supplies of metal and plastic. They are taking 1,800 pound (815 kg) rolls of plastic and cutting them down to 80 pound (35 kg) rolls which can be easily shipped to people at home with the 3D printers.

Built 400 boats in 30 days in WWII

Correct Craft is one of the oldest boat and marine companies in the United States. It was founded in 1925 and has seen its share of challenges, starting with he Great Depression of the 1930s. During the Second World War, the US government desperately needed storm boats and turned to Correct Craft for help.

Inside the Correct Craft factory during WWIINear the end of the war, General Eisenhower called on them to build about 400 boats in thirty days. The factory’s normal quota was 40, so it required developing an entirely new production process almost literally overnight and increasing staff from 60 people to over 300. National Geographic later dubbed the event “A Miracle Production,” and it solidified the company’s reputation not only as being a reliable, quality boat manufacturer, but also as a company that gives.

It is not just the Orlando facility that is helping out in protecting healthcare workers. At other Correct Craft facilities:

  • Modesto California: Centurion & Supreme Boats have donated much needed PPE to supply Memorial Hospital and Doctor’s Hospital and are also making approximately 1,000 face shields to donate to their local health care community.
  • Beaufort, North Carolina: Parker Boats has donated N95 certified face masks and protective suits to healthcare facilities.

Our team is unlike any other,” said Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin in a statement.“Their drive, creativity and teamwork to help people in their local community during this crisis is inspiring. Our team has diligently worked to bring as much help and encouragement to our local health care community as they can. I am honoured to serve on this team who, even during this crisis, continue working hard at living up to our mission of ‘Making Life Better.’”

Or as Nautique upholstery seamstress Aida Claudio told WKMG “We just try to help wherever we can“.

Photo and Video Credit: Clay LePard and WKMG News 6

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