Tampa Bay company puts all resources into making protective masks for health care workers during coronavirus crisis

Manatee County

BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – A wheelchair manufacturing company in the Tampa Bay area is shifting gears to help with the coronavirus crisis. They are now making protective masks since we are in the midst of a massive shortage.

It’s happening at Tyton Design and Development located just west of U.S. 301 in Bradenton.

The masks being made there are more durable than what you’ll find in most stores. They’re made of 65/35 cotton polyester twill and even have pockets for disposable filters.

This is not what Tyton is known for. Three weeks ago they were making wheelchair accessories.

“I used to sew in the past you know, but it’s been a few years. I’m catching on,” Teri DeVito said.

The coronavirus crisis forced the restaurant DeVito worked at to shut down. Tuesday was her first day on the job at Tyton.

“Cause I’m furloughed from my job right now. I said, instead of collecting unemployment I can do something,” DeVito explained.

Tyton’s owner said he made a dramatic change to manufacturing after seeing the mass shortage of face masks during the ongoing global pandemic.

“Three weeks ago. I literally woke up, came here first thing in the morning, said let’s make masks. Let’s design it. Let’s see what we can do,” owner Ty Salvatore said.

What they created is a reusable, washable face mask that can hold disposable filters. They are cut, sewn and packaged by employees wearing the same masks in a controlled, clean and sanitized environment. They’re made all at cost to the company.

“We haven’t crunched the numbers yet and I’m a little afraid to,” Salvatore said with a chuckle. “But at the end of the day, as long as we can pay our employees, keep the lights on, I’m committed to doing this.”

He’s donated 100 masks to the Sarasota Police Department and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management is now asking about his masks and so are local hospitals. He’s also ramped up production of face shields and gowns.

Wanting to fill demand, Salvatore wants to fill his warehouse space with people sewing masks across three different shifts. He says he’ll go back to making wheelchair accessories when there’s no longer a need.

Tyson Design and Development is hiring people to help make surgical masks. The company is hoping to hire 100 people who have some sewing experience. Three shifts are available to choose from. Anyone interested can email Ty Salvatore at ty@mLa-usa.com.

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