Health Canada has emphasized the importance of masks and respirators in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 outbreak. With supply shortages of the N95 masks and the many questioning the effectiveness of homemade versions, many manufacturers and textile producers are shifting to focus on the devices. Longstanding Edmonton icon, Derks Group of Companies, has taken it's mask-making efforts to the next level.
In early April, the Derks Group announced, "The Derks Uniforms division has developed and produced a specialized face mask designed especially for those in the front lines allowing for reuse and insertion of an additional protective layer for first responders and essential services. Using our knowledge of fabrics, construction, and sourcing, we have put together a core listing of products to help protect those in need that might not be able to source & produce products like these in high volume due to the high global demand."
We had a conversation about the endeavour with Sterling Derk, menswear director at Mr. Derk.
Our uniform department, Derks Uniforms, saw a need for masks in the market. All the countries that have been able to flatten the curve have incorporated masks into their approaches. We put out this product to see what could happen. The disposable facemasks are good, but they have to be thrown out. These can be reused and washed every day.
It's about providing for front-line workers. We already produce uniforms for these organizations, so it's a good fit. We service all across Canada, but most of our efforts making masks have are focused on local organizations.
Our mask is a high-quality reusable mask. It's 2 layers of 2-ply cotton, and it covers more of the face than most masks. The band goes around the back of the head rather than around the ears, so it's more comfortable to wear for extended periods. It's also possible to put a disposable filter inside.
We even have embroidery options available. Currently, we have a series of masks featuring an Alberta-strong campaign.
The response has been overwhelming. Front-line health organizations have purchased orders. Large corporations like Dynalife and PCL have made orders as well as smaller companies in service sectors. We've been taking orders for the past five days, so we're just getting started. As of today, we can produce up to 400 per day.