ORWIGSBURG, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Across the globe we are seeing industries transfer their skills to make items that can help protect healthcare workers and the general public against COVID-19. Now, the oldest surviving children’s shoe manufacturer in America is expanding their product line to help.
Audrey Zimmerman, a fourth generation shoemaker, tells us “With every shoe pattern it starts off with a basic drawing. In this case it’s masks.”
Kepner Scott Shoe Company in Orwigsburg has been making children’s shoes for the last 132 years.
“We can turn on a dime. Whatever’s thrown or way we can transition and make it work,” said the company’s president Steven Zimmerman.
The business closed for the first time March 19th because the governor originally deemed the business non-essential. They applied for a waiver and it was granted because they make orthopedic children’s shoes. They now are also re-purposing their staff of about 20 shoemakers to make fabric masks. Now that health officials are recommending people wear them dung the pandemic their production is even more critical.
“I’m glad we can bring our work family back into the work place and also serve our community by supplying masks for those in need,” said Steven.
Audrey added, “We retooled our production. In stead of leather we are using 100% cotton and elastic so it was a relatively easy switch.”
After seeing family and friends who work in the medical field struggle to get masks for work, the Zimmermans decided to donate the masks to healthcare workers and the immunocompromised.
“We saw a need for masks and we wanted to help out and we wanted to protect our friends and family and local community,” said Audrey.
The small business has six stitchers working in the manufacturing building with two working off-site to produce about 1,500 masks a week.
Kepner opened their product to the public for sale. If you can’t buy one, Zimmerman says you can opt to wear a scarf or find of DIY pattern online.
Kepner Shoes has survived 6 wars, the Great Depression and the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic,
And now is ready to take on the COVID-19.
For information on how to get masks from Kepner you can can visit their website by Clicking Here.
Or, learn how to make your own mask by Clicking Here.