Local Manufacturers, Once A COVID-19 Lifeline For Connecticut, Now Struggle To Sell PPE

A Hartford HealthCare-owned warehouse in Newington contains towering boxes of personal protective equipment. (Tony Spinelli/Connecticut Public)

After shutting down his manufacturing plant and sending 2 million unsold face shields to sit in a warehouse, Bing Carbone found himself wondering what was next for his plastics company.

His business had “an outstanding 2020,” pivoting from making high-grade plastic parts for the defense and medical industries to producing more than 30 million of those now ubiquitous transparent face shields worn by doctors and dentists. But then, Carbone said, buyers stopped calling him back. And the reason was clear: Asian factories were back online.

“They’ve gone back to their Chinese imports,” said Carbone, president of Modern Plastics in Shelton, Connecticut, which made the PPE pivot last year after a sagging demand for specialized plastic used in elective surgeries undercut some of the company’s traditional business.

“We leased a new facility in Derby, which I had to scuttle in March because the [PPE] business literally dried up,” Carbone said, noting he eliminated 65 positions.

“The employees are gone,” Carbone said. “The facility is closed.”

So Carbone’s company turned back to its pre-pandemic business model: making specialized plastic parts for knee replacements, elevators, submarines and a host of other niche markets.

Read the rest of the story at Connecticut Public Radio’s website.