Posted by Deborah Leydig Pfaff on 5/15/2020 to News
When I first decided to open a store that sold only USA made products, I wasn't trying to be a protectionist. I didn't even know what that meant. I just knew that certain products should always be made in the United States. Test tubes, lab equipment, airplanes, rockets, medical equipment, etc., etc., etc. Of course my little general store wasn't going to carry any of those items because your average customer didn't need those things, but I soon learned that the reason we don't make coffee pots in America anymore is because we don't make borosilicate glass in America anymore and that is what you need to make a glass coffee pot ... or a test tube. Germany makes borosilicate glass and so does China. I always felt well, gee, what if we get in a fight with those countries, how will we get the equipment our scientists need, let alone my cup of coffee.
Fast forward 6 years, Norton's USA is open and doing pretty well. One day a gentleman comes in and wants to sell me surgical masks. I laughed and he said, "Well they're made in the United States." We talked for a long time about how his masks are made and that almost all the medical equipment is now being off-shored to China. He told me he lost a huge hospital account because the Chinese masks were one penny cheaper, one penny! He was kind enough to leave me a box and we said our goodbyes. Surgical masks where not something I thought I needed to sell in my store or what my customers would even be interested in. Wrong!
Fast forward a few more years and my immune system starts to go haywire. I'm told I need to wear an N95 mask when I do any cleaning, gardening or when I am in my barn. I think to myself, hmmm, I still have those masks that, that nice guy gave me. I search around the back of the store, find them and low and behold, they are N95's! Bingo. The masks are great and I feel so much better when I am in my barn cleaning, and grooming my animals. I'm feeling pretty lucky.
Fast forward a few more years and Covid19 strikes and we are in the middle of a pandemic. My husband and I hear the cries for more PPE and that they are desperate for N95 masks. I tell my husband, our masks are N95 and made in the USA. I wonder to myself if that nice guys company is still in business. We both watch in horror as more and more people get sicker and sicker, so many people are dying and so many hospitals are desperate for PPE. We also hear how China is not letting our own PPE leave the US factories in China, that they are confiscating it to use in their hospitals.
Fast forward to yesterday, May 14, 2020 and there is Mike Bowen, the vice president of Prestige America, the company that makes the masks I've had all these years, testifying on Capital Hill. During the whistleblower's testimony, Rick Bright said “I’ll never forget the emails I received from Mike Bowen,” who runs Prestige Ameritech, the top surgical mask supplier in the country, Bright said, “indicating that our mask supply, our N-95 respirator supply was completely decimated. And he said, ‘We’re in deep shit. The world is.'” Mike Bowen has been trying for years to get people to wake up and purchase masks made in the USA.
Listen to Mr. Bowen of Prestige Ameritech as he testifies. It's hard to be shocked anymore, but I am so saddened and disappointed. Oh, what we could have done for our Medical Professionals and First Responders if the right people had done the right thing.