Novolex Wins Manufacturing Excellence Award for Innovation

The Association of Washington Business honored the Shields operations of Novolex in Yakima, Wash. for repurposing its equipment to produce protective gowns during the pandemic.

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Novolex's  Shields plant normally produces food packaging and containers at its Washington facilities in Yakima. But after the pandemic hit, the company quickly repurposed its equipment to manufacture medical isolation gowns, which have been among the most urgently needed types of personal protective equipment (PPE) and in short supply.

“When we learned there was a critical need for PPE, we immediately got to work adapting our facilities to produce medical gowns,” said Scott Houtz, Regional Manufacturing Director of Novolex. “We’re very honored to receive this award, and we’re incredibly proud to help protect the many frontline workers who continue to protect all of us.”

AWB President Kris Johnson presented the award virtually during the association’s 2020 Manufacturing Week web broadcast this week.

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“Novolex is a great example of how Washington manufacturers responded during a time of need and quickly adapted their production facilities,” Johnson said. “In March, Shields Bag in Yakima – operated by Novolex – responded to a call from AWB asking our manufacturing members for help. We sent out a call asking for manufacturers that could retool their operations to make PPE like masks, gowns, face shields and other gear. By May, Novolex’s nearly 1,000 employees in Yakima had ramped up to produce a million isolation gowns per week using equipment that had been used to make bags for tortillas and other food products.

“It was an incredible response during an unprecedented time and we’re proud to recognize Novolex for their contributions to our state and nation,” Johnson added.

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