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Father, daughter duo creates face shields for those on the frontlines fighting COVID-19

Lee Richards has made knee pads for over 30 years, but due to the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, he's shifted production to help the people who need it most.

WHITEFIELD, Maine — Pro Knee Corp. in Whitefield has been manufacturing knee pads for more than 30 years, but its owner and his daughter recently decided to use those materials to make face shields to protect against COVID-19.

When Lee Richards saw that there was a need for durable and long-lasting face shields to protect those workers fighting back against the coronavirus, he knew he needed to do something.

The Whitefield native created Pro Knee Corp. more than 30 years ago, a local manufacturer specializing in custom made knee pads. He said he and his daughter realized they could use the same high-quality materials to make face shields, the only thing missing was the material for the shield itself.

“We’re doing this number one to keep our people busy,” Richards said. “And to supply the Maine people with PPE that we know that they need.”

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They were able to use materials like the straps and buckles from their knee pads to create the head gear portion. Luckily, Richards said he was able to get his hands on polycarbonate for the shield portion, which he said is a more durable material and reusable.

“We pivoted production in three days,” Richards said. “Right now, we have the capacity to make 11,000 of these… that’s like making one-million because they’re going to last that long.”They say they’re filling a need that goes beyond hospitals and emergency rooms because first responders need them too. They said they’ve already received a number of testimonials from fire departments around the state that have invested in the shields. 

However, they said what has made this entire process more even more enjoyable is knowing it’s something they created together. Richards said he always hoped his daughter would come back to Maine to help him with the business and he’s so happy she is finally here.

“We’re thrown together in this battle against COVID-19 and I couldn’t ask for a better partner,” Richards said. “I mean I really couldn’t, we’ve had some nice moments.”

To learn more about Pro Knee Corp., click here.

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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