MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The City of Memphis and hospitals are getting thousands of masks for first responders thanks to the help of a local auto body shop.
The auto body work at Perfection Auto Refinish is about a third of what it usually is all because of this global pandemic. The staff there is repurposing their duties. Many workers are now delivering masks to first responders in Memphis.
“The auto collision industry is supposed to be a recession-proof industry. This is an exception,” Perfection Auto Refinish Owner Jeff McCraw said.
With a stay-at-home order in place, fewer people are driving, fewer people are getting in wrecks, and that’s less business for hundreds of auto-body repair shops in the Mid-South.
Those at Perfection Auto Refinish said a chain of events made it possible for hundreds of thousands of surgical masks to make their way to them, and for the business to keep every worker on full time even with declining business.
First, an already-established vendor contract between Perfection Auto Refinish and the City of Memphis allowed the two entities to do business together. Then, an existing supply chain of masks allowed that partnership to go into full effect during a pandemic.
“[The masks] will be going to various first-line responders like firemen and policemen as well as other public work employees like sanitation workers,” McCraw’s business consultant Rob Kabel said.
The city is buying more than 900,000 masks from Perfection Auto Refinish. Hundreds of thousands have already been delivered to those who need them, with Perfection Auto Refinish taking care of all the logistics.
“We can palletize and warehouse these [masks] for the end-users and get them to them on a per need basis,” McCraw said.
With the Centers for Disease Control issuing more recommendations for people to wear masks outside, these masks are critical for essential employees reporting to work every day. Those at Perfection Auto Refinish said it was a community effort to get these masks here for them.
“The personnel at the city, Mayor Strickland has been personally involved, FedEx has helped us get this initial wave of masks in,” Kabel said.
With a few hundred thousand masks still en route to Memphis, most of those 950,000 masks should be in the hands of those who need them by early next week.
The City of Memphis’ Director of General Service Antonio Adams said Perfection Auto Refinish is one of seven local, traditionally non-medical companies helping the city get masks.
Right now Memphis has an order of more than 2,750,000 masks among those companies. Adams said the orders will be shared with Shelby County and Baptist Memorial Hospital and Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.
The City of Memphis has spent more than $2 million on those masks.