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Shout Out from a Social Distance to Universal Plastics

by Lisa Derby Oden, Project Development Coordinator, MassMEP

Universal Plastics is a custom plastic products manufacturer with expertise in a range of processes, including custom thermoforming, injection molding, and custom blow molding for the medical, aerospace, transportation, and general industrial markets. Starting in 2020, Mayfield Plastics, Premium Plastic Solutions, Sajar Plastics, and Universal Plastics have come together under one name – Universal Plastics. Two locations are in Massachusetts, one in Holyoke that is also corporate headquarters and one in Sutton. All five sites have been given ‘essential services’ status.

Universal Plastics is manufacturing medical face shields (1000/day), intubation/aerosol boxes, and patient belongings trays for COVID-19. That is great news as we all do our part to move through this pandemic. It’s also great news for their regular customers, employees, and supply chain. The PPE products are new to Universal Plastics, developed just for this purpose, in direct response to need. It usually is a 4 to 6-week process from drawings to prototypes, yet Universal Plastics turned this around in a week. They were able to do so partly because they do a lot of work in medical parts and so have the background for it.

Chief Strategy Officer Pia Kumar states, "We’re not looking to turn a profit here — we’re selling these items at cost and making some donations. We are donating to local cities and organizations based on need, starting with the communities we are located in.  We’re just trying to keep ourselves busy and do the right thing."

Universal Plastics has been following all the necessary and recommended protocols from government agencies to prevent the spread of the virus to their employees and to the wider community while maintaining their commitment to providing their customers with high quality parts and exceptional customer service. Universal Plastics employees all got face shields first. If anyone in their family was in health care or was in a nursing home, they got one, too.

"There are challenges to managing an essential workforce," Pia continues. "We’re working hard to keep everyone safe and do more than the CDC requires. It takes quite a bit to do all the research regarding proper operational procedures. For example, there is a right way and wrong way to put on gloves. Once you find the proper procedure, then it must be shared and employees trained. With any new procedure, they must also be enforced. We have lots of visuals to help with this entire process. They are solid reminders for everyone throughout our facilities. Everyone has a temperature check when they come in to start their workday. Work stations have been set up using social distancing, and we have created all the documentation about procedures that are needed. Our employees get weekly emails with updates and changes."

Pia adds, "Our employees here are making magic. For example, Tooling Department Team Leader Gerry Durand came up with a new way to provide additional hand washing for COVID-19. It’s a large water cooler jug with a spigot and a drum underneath it to catch the used water. This allows us to have more handwashing stations throughout our facilities."

Pia closes saying, "The whole company has really gotten behind the entire COVID-19 effort. It might sound funny, but I actually feel grateful and optimistic. Business has suffered, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Our employees are really stepping up to meet this challenge and it’s so inspiring. It will stand us well into the future."

Go to www.universalplastics.com to learn more about the company and all that they are doing.
Governor Baker gives Universal Plastics a shout out for pivoting to PPE.

We applaud and are thankful for Universal Plastics for all their efforts to innovate and provide PPE, and to take good care of their family of employees during these very challenging times.

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