American Seating makes masks for COVID-19 response

American Seating, a North American leader of transportation seating products, has started making medical-grade masks to help with the COVID-19 response. The H600 isolation masks are being made for Spectrum Health, the largest hospital system in West Michigan.

Grand Rapids, Michigan-based American Seating anticipates making approximately 2,000 masks per week. The company plans to make the masks until the pandemic need diminishes.

American Seating worked with Spectrum Health to ensure the masks meet design and materials specifications. A small workforce of fabric cutting and sewing technicians are working on the masks at American Seating.

“We’re proud of the skill sets of our employees and their capability to adapt to this critical need, and we’re also proud to help our healthcare providers stay safe on the front lines of COVID-19,” American Seating President and COO Tom Bush said.

American Seating normally has a full-time UAW workforce of approximately 200 employees. The company had been designated an essential business, serving as a critical component manufacturer for transportation infrastructure during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in North America. However, the company temporarily ceased manufacturing operations on March 30 as the result of the temporary closure of key customers due to the pandemic. The company will ramp up full manufacturing operations as soon as possible.

Other West Michigan manufacturers are also involved in the mask-making effort.

American Seating’s history of helping during times of national and global crisis goes back to World War II when the company converted much of its production to seating and other products for the U.S. military. By 1944, 90% of the company’s manufactured goods supported the Armed Forces. During that time, the company produced 10,000 folding chairs per day, ultimately making 5 million chairs for the military. Other products made for the war effort included pilot ejection seats, tank seats, ammunition boxes, wings and spars for aircraft, backpacks for troops and wood components for gliders used in the D-Day invasion.