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Coronavirus accelerates company's move from China to GR

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Posted at 3:18 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 21:11:00-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A company that makes scarves to protect from airborne contaminants is moving its operations from China to Grand Rapid, largely due to coronavirus concerns.

G95 Inc. had its first day of operations in West Michigan on Thursday. The company is known for making the Bioscarf, which is built to protect customers from bacteria, viruses, air pollution, allergens, smoke and other airborne contaminants. Other products includes face masks, hoodies and other types of clothing.

The inside contains a filtration material, designed to block airborne contaminates.

G95 Owner, Carlton Solle, got the idea because he once got sick from traveling or potentially from a plane. He decided to create an alternative to the stereotypical face masks.

"We sandwiched the [filtration material] in between fabric and all our stuff has been designed to function like normal apparel but it has protection built in," said Solle. "So you can put this scarf on, put it over your face, and you've got protection when you need it, where you need it."

Demand for the protect since the coronavirus outbreak has gone up exponentially. As of right now, G95 has 1,000 orders pending.

G95 has contracted with Grand Rapids business, Ladder 34, which creates bags, belts, and other products from retired fire hoses that are no longer up to code. The business partnership marks G95's first time manufacturing in the US.

"I got worried that not only would it be dangerous for us to bring it, not only for the people, but us bringing the virus with our stuff," said Solle. "Then second, would it be safe for our people to actually use?"

Ladder 34 owner Lance Korhorn plans to hire more staff to keep up with his own business, as well as the new task of making G95's designs.

"The days are getting longer and staff is here most days now," said Korhorn. "We are expecting a busy next few months."

The cost to make the product in Grand Rapids if four times the cost of production overseas, but Solle believes it's necessary to ensure safety.

"We're in the business of making something that helps protect you, so if there is a piece of the puzzle that I can make sure you know, I will guarantee that," said Carlton.

The company says the demand for its product has skyrocketed since January and it already has triple the amount of orders this month as it did in January. You can would like to see the products, you can click here.