Part 2: Recognizing MN manufacturers who are supporting our health care heroes

I previously wrote about several Minnesota manufacturers producing medical products to help protect our health care heroes working tirelessly on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.

Larger companies such as 3M and Medtronic—headquartered in Minnesota—have been focused on providing masks, disinfectants, respirators, and ventilators to fight the spread of COVID-19. But there are several other manufacturers and industry partners across the state using their resources to support medical personnel and respond to the shortage of personal protective equipment.

Ajax Metal Forming Solutions

The metal fabricator in Fridley has been making components for companies and universities to use in their manufacturing of ventilators and health care prototypes.

Bedford Industries

The largest twist-tie manufacturer in the world has transitioned production to tens of thousands of face shields a day. Based in Worthington, the plastic fabrication company has long made the nose wire used in medical masks but is taking its new shield a step further.

“It’s easy to put on and easy to adjust. The intention is it’s used with those N-95 respirator masks to protect them [hospital staff] against splashes and the idea is to get multiple uses out of the N95 masks,” [Bedford Industries President Jay] Milbrandt explained.

Fey Industries

This southwest Minnesota company is designing and mass-producing face shields and medical gowns.

Both the gowns and the face shields are designed to be reusable. The protective gowns cover the front of the body from collarbone to wrist and mid-calf, and close with a tie in the back. N95 face masks are essential to protect the wearer from COVID-19, and Fey Industries face shields fit over masks to make them last longer.

The Edgerton-based company’s new Preserve-A-Mask has been distributed nationwide by the tens of thousands, and Fey Industries has even been able to re-hire former employees previously laid off to help meet production demands.

“Even after 12 hours, there’s still energy there,” [Fey Industries President and CEO Mike] Fey said of the line workers.  

Lightning Kayaks

The kayak-manufacturer in Minneapolis has pivoted from making pedal-driven kayaks and paddles to solely making face shields for the medical community. Through donations, the company is able to send the masks to health care workers for free.


Around 75 percent of the Chaska-based pillow manufacturer’s production is cotton face masks for health care workers, according to CEO Mike Lindell. The company hopes to go from producing 10,000 masks a day to 50,000 a day very shortly.

Lindell says it took about three weeks to shift production as it was difficult at first to get a supply of elastics needed to create the masks. At this time, he says components are not available to make other types of masks, so his company focused on making the 100% cotton masks. He says MyPillow worked with a coalition from President Donald Trump’s administration to get the proper design.

“Something is better than nothing to get [health care workers] through,” he said.

The masks will be going to hospitals in Minnesota and throughout the country.

Prime Manufacturers LLC

This manufacturing company in Minneapolis is partnering with CentraCare in St. Cloud to quickly produce and distribute as many face shields as possible to health care workers. Using its 3D printers, Prime Manufacturers can produce each face shield in one or two minutes and is providing the labor for free to hospitals and other facilities. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for the supplies the company needs to create the face shields.

Twin City Die Castings

The 100-year-old provider of precision aluminum and magnesium die castings has been partnering with other companies to supply parts that will be used to build ventilators and hospital beds. Twin City Die Castings was founded in 1919 in Minneapolis as one of the original die casting companies in the United States.

Wyoming Machine and Ideal Industries

The Stacy-based precision sheet metal shop is fabricating parts used to make hospital ventilators. Ideal Industries of Princeton is also using its parts production capabilities to ramp up production of ventilator components.

Traci Trapani, co-president of Wyoming Machine, said her company is in the process of fabricating 10,000 aluminum washer-like parts that are used to make internal ventilator components. The parts are being shipped to Ideal Industries in Princeton where they are incorporated into parts needed for ventilator internal devices.

Thank you to these manufacturers, their industry partners, and other companies using their resources to support health care professionals during this crucial time.