Alumni transition business from outdoor gear production to face mask production amid pandemic shortages

In recent weeks, America's healthcare system has seen a mass shortage of PPE, personal protective equipment, and some citizens are assisting with fighting COVID-19 in a unique way: innovating and adjusting their businesses to produce masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment to help healthcare providers and other essential workers stay healthy.

Walker College of Business alumni Preston Powell '01 and Adam Scherer '01 are answering the call.

Powell and Scherer, who earned degrees in business management and banking and finance, respectively, from Appalachian State University, own Alamo Pride LLC, a cut-and-sew and specialty printing operation in Alamo, Tennessee. Since opening in 2014, the facility has turned out specialty sportswear and outdoor gear. Now, however, with the novel coronavirus pandemic draining PPE supplies across the U.S., Powell and Scherer have shifted the company's resources to making protective face masks for those on the front lines.

Powell said that while the first masks have been distributed to school employees who are preparing and delivering meals to children in Crockett County, TN, Alamo Pride already has requests for the masks from hospitals in Tennessee.

Powell credits his employees with the organization's transition. "We are fortunate to have hard working employees to help pivot our production so quickly into face masks," said Powell, adding that he feels "blessed to still be working and blessed to help!"