By Paula Ebben

WEST BRIDGEWATER (CBS) — For more than 100 years, Shawmut Corporation has manufactured materials for car parts and performance wear. But the West Bridgewater factory is now shifting gears.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the company is working to supply hospital gowns to healthcare workers across the country.

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“We’re producing both the fabrics to help other people make the gowns, because the fabrics are in extreme short supply, but we also now are producing gowns as well to supply to hospitals,” said Shawmut Corporation CEO James Wyner.

Their goal is to distribute as many as 2.5 million gowns a week.

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Employees working to make hospital gown material at Shawmut Corporation in West Bridgewater. (WBZ-TV)

“We’re working 24 hours seven days a week as a team to repurpose and refit equipment we have across five plants to get that production level up to the 8 or 10 million gowns per month demand that’s coming at us,” Wyner said. “…I think all our people are extremely anxious and motivated to participate and be part of the solution.”

This isn’t the first time Shawmut Corporation has stepped up during a national crisis. The third-generation Massachusetts family business has a history of service going all the way back to World War I. During World War II, the company produced field jackets, blankets and parachutes for the U.S. military.

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“I have a vivid recollection that when I was working one summer in 1942 from high school…my mother would look at my blistered hands from tying the shroud lines of the parachute onto the knuckle that connected to the bomb and say to my father ‘What are you doing to our son?'” said 94-year-old Chairman Justin Wyner. “…It gives me a lot of faith that we’re going to see the other side and we’re going to come out and be stronger for it.”

Paula Ebben