When Michael Moss first heard that coronavirus was beginning to spread and that there were shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), he knew he could help.
Moss owns and operates the largest hand-dipped chocolate factory in the country, Sweet Shop USA, located in Mount Pleasant, about 120 miles east of Dallas on I-30.
“When I saw the shields being made on TV by nurses and admin[istrative] staff in break rooms between shifts, I knew our existing vendors already stocked all of the necessary components for the shields and we had the skilled labor to assemble them,” Moss said.
As an FDA-approved food manufacturing facility, they were considered an essential business and could continue operating.
Face shields are handmade from plastics and mostly imported from overseas factories. With overseas shipping limited due to the coronavirus, a shortage resulted.
So when President Trump asked private businesses to step up to help meet the needs surrounding the pandemic, Moss stepped into action.
He contacted his suppliers who specialize in plastics, then worked with local hospitals and doctors to design a shield that his employees could hand-make.
Converting 20,000 square feet of his 80,000 square foot factory to face shield production, Moss hired temporary employees to help produce them.
“New York Governor Cuomo’s office reached out to us and the United States Health and Human Services department — and that’s how we got into the PPE business,” Moss explained.
The plant can now produce between 100,000 to 200,000 face shields per week. They have orders from hospitals, health care providers, fire and police from all over the country.
“We are pushing out to the hardest-hit areas first,” Mandy Hughes, chief customer officer explained.
With Titus County, where Mount Pleasant sits, confirming only two cases of COVID-19, the need for PPE is greater in other areas of the state.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the community,” Hughes added.
Sweet Shop USA was founded 49 years ago in Fort Worth and moved to Mount Pleasant in 2008. Their location in Fort Worth was bought out as part of the Trinity River Vision/Panther Island Project.
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.