Jonti-Craft makes unique COVID-19 pandemic contribution
WABASSO — As a response to rising demand, an educational furniture manufacturer is aiding the effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by producing a line of portable sinks.
Jonti-Craft’s Clean Hands Helper provide hot, running water without plumbing.
“While most in our industry know us as the leading provider of children’s furniture for schools and daycares, we’re seeing rapidly growing demand from the healthcare sector for our Clean Hands Helper portable sinks and other products,” said Jonti-Craft Chief Operating Officer Nick Schwarz.
“We added portable sink solutions to our product line in 2010, in response to a growing demand for hand washing in rooms without plumbing,” Schwarz said. “Running water and sewer lines through existing structures was not always possible, and this product helped many of those schools and daycares meet standards and achieve certification requirements associated with sanitation and hand washing.”
The Centers for Disease Control strongly recommends frequent and thorough hand-washing to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. With rapid virus spread, many large buildings have been converted to temporary triage centers.
These facilities are grappling with the exact same obstacles, Schwarz said.
Convention centers, shuttered prisons, and even U.S. Navy ships were never designed to accommodate the plumbing requirements for multiple hand-washing stations. That’s where Jonti-Craft’s line of portable sinks can play a significant role.
Jonti-Craft Clean Hands Helper Portable Sinks are available in two heights–one for children and one for adults–and in two sink options, a one-piece molded plastic sink or a stainless-steel sink insert.
The mobile sinks meet licensing requirements and give users the flexibility of moving them quickly to areas of need. Plus, the on-demand water heater warms water to a safe 40°F above room temperature.
These sinks arrive needing only the faucets and handles attached and water filled. Then users simply plug them in and flip the switch. That’s an important factor as hospitals and triage centers are opening quickly and need to be ready almost immediately.
“At the start of March 2020 we anticipated an increase of 2-3 times our average sales of portable sinks. By the end of the month, the demand was 10 times greater,” said Jonti-Craft Director of Sales, Matt Hinkle. “Adding to the urgency, customers are asking for immediate shipment. We needed to look outside of the box to scale quickly while maintaining manufacturing best-practices.”
Hinkle said Jonti-Craft worked even more closely and collaboratively with customers to evaluate every possible solution. He said the production team worked with customers to develop a re-configured shipping schedule so that the company could build and ship smaller batches of sinks instead of waiting until the entire order was ready. That method allowed faster partial-order shipment so facilities could start using them right away.
During the week of March 30, Jonti-Craft shipped over 20 sinks to New York City’s Javits Center to help the state’s critical fight against COVID-19.
The Javits Center was initially intended to serve only non-coronavirus patients but was repurposed on April 6th to accept COVID-19 patients due to demand. The 2.1-million-square-foot convention center was converted into a makeshift hospital by the US military in just five days. And while New York has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, needs are surging in other areas across the country.
In recent days, the company has also supplied portable sinks to cities and towns alike including New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis, McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Va., Michigan Institute of Neurological Disorders in Kentwood, MI, HOAG Hospital in Newport Beach, Ca., VCU Health Systems in Richmond, MN, St. Francis Hospital in Greenville, S.C. and Pagosa Springs Medical Center in Pagosa Springs, CO.
In addition, Jonti-Craft provided portable sinks to Illumina Corporation, a biotech company that works with disease control laboratories to support testing and research for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
Schwarz took note of some positive side effects, saying “our employees take great pride in meeting this challenge – and it gives us an even greater sense of purpose knowing that our products are helping fight the pandemic. We are redoubling our efforts to make sure that we can provide portable sinks to pop-up hospitals anywhere they are needed.”
Jonti-Craft has rearranged production lines and trained new operators to handle increased demand. Instead of creating a handful of sinks a day, they can now produce hundreds per month.
“It is a great feeling knowing that we are helping out during the COVID-19 crisis to produce a high-quality product for the situation,” says Steve Hey, the primary builder of the portable sinks. “Our employees are stepping up and are ready and willing to take on the challenge we face. People from all areas of Jonti-Craft are pitching in during this challenging time.”
While Minnesota is currently under a Stay-Home Governor’s Executive Order, Jonti-Craft is an essential business and is continuing to stay in production during this challenging time.
The company is following guidelines set by the State of Minnesota and the CDC and has initiated several health and safety operational changes.
Some of these changes include having employees who can work from home to do so, holding virtual meetings instead of in-person meetings, staggering break and lunch times to reduce the number people in a shared space, as well as continuing to use healthy hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
Because many of the company’s staff have family members who are unable to work during this difficult time, Jonti-Craft has increased workers’ pay during the Governor’s Executive Order. To find out more about the Jonti-Craft Clean Hands Helper Portable sinks visit www.jonti-craft.com/sinks or call 507.342.5169.