SENECA FALLS — When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Finger Lakes Textiles quickly pivoted from making wool hats for the military to making washable face masks.
The company, operated by Mozaic, an organization formed by the merger of the Seneca-Cayuga and Yates ARCs, employs people with disabilities and is located near the former BonaDent facility on North Road.
The company has received a $15,000 grant from FuzeHub to help accelerate its production of cloth face masks. The money was used to buy new industrial sewing machines, allowing the company to triple its production of masks.
“Finger Lakes Textile quickly pivoted to produce face masks to help keep people safe from the coronavirus pandemic. It was an inspiring undertaking and FuzeHub is excited to help them increase production,” said Elena Garuc, FuzeHub executive director.
The company now employs about 87 people and recently added five more workers to assist with face mask production. As an essential business because of its work for the Defense Department, the company has implemented enhanced health and safety procedures to keep employees safe.
FuzeHub is the statewide center for the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership. It is a non-profit organization that connects the state’s small and mid-sized manufacturing companies to the resources, programs and expertise they need for technology commercialization, innovation and business growth.
FL Textiles typically manufactures winter hats for the U.S. Armed Forces through a Defense Department contract. It also sells its products to civilians under its Arctic Gear label.
“When we recognized our community’s need for more face masks, we were eager to help,” said Edward Sayles, Mozaic director of development. “This grant from FuzeHub helped us secure the equipment we needed to significantly ramp up production and served as a catalyst for job creation.”
“We hope our team’s response to the pandemic will further demonstrate that every person, regardless of any perceived disability, can make an impact and contribute to our community in so many different ways,” he added.
The grant purchased equipment to triple weekly production of washable 0.5 micron filter face masks. The five industrial sewing machines FL Textiles has added to its facility also will help diversify its product mix once the surging demand for face masks begins to subside.
For more than 25 years, Finger Lakes Textile has produced winter hats for the armed forces. In 2018, it launched is Arctic Gear brand to sell the headwear in the consumer market. Its first large order for masks came from the Cornell Prison Education Program, providing 43,000 masks for the state’s incarcerated prisoners.
“We are a mission-driven business with a social purpose,” said Allen Connely, CEO of Mozaic. “Everything we do at Mozaic, especially our work at Finger Lakes Textile, drives back to our mission of providing vital services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.”