LEE — When Covid-19 struck in the spring, Stephen Boyd, CEO of Boyd Technologies, an advanced materials and technology company in Lee, knew he needed to retool his business to help in any way it could.
With support from a $2 million state Manufacturing Emergency Response Team grant, Boyd quickly shifted work in its medical and life sciences facility and began making personal protective equipment at the Lee plant. And now the company is further expanding its capacity to manufacture PPE. Within weeks, the company will begin the installation of two new automated PPE-producing machines. Boyd will be on its way to making 60 million masks —both surgical and N95 respirator masks — a year.
Last Tuesday, November 10, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal came to visit the facility and to learn more about Boyd’s ongoing efforts to fight the virus. Neal praised the company for its expansion into the field of PPE and for being able to react so quickly in the spring.
“Let’s be candid,” Neal said. “America got caught back footed on PPE.” The ability of the United States to make more PPE itself is key to avoiding that situation in the future, he continued.
Also in attendance was Brian Johnson, President of the Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council (MassMEDIC), the largest regional MedTech association in the United States.
Boyd’s fast transition was badly needed, said Johnson. “In the darkest days of March and April, when the beast of this virus was bearing down on us, Boyd Technologies was a leader and an inspiration.” He told the Boyd staff, “You gave me hope.”
Rep. Neal’s visit gave Stephen Boyd the opportunity also to announce a major collaboration with FreMon Scientific of San Diego, Calif.
Boyd is now manufacturing ZipSleeve™, a disposable component to FreMon’s new ZipThaw™ devices. Together, ZipThaw and ZipSleeve represent new break-through technology for transporting and thawing blood plasma. Farideh Z. Bischoff, C.E.O. of FreMon Scientific was in attendance on Tuesday.
ZipThaw™ received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance last year and is now ramping up for commercial production. The use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 has heightened the demand for these devices that make safe and easy transport of plasma possible.
“COVID-19 has dislocated health care in a tremendous way, and it’s innovations like what we’re doing with FreMon that, I think, will help beat this thing down,” Boyd said.
While at the site, Neal took time to meet with Boyd’s 55 employees, who gathered at a distance, to thank them for their work during the pandemic.
“You are part of our frontline workers,” Neal said. “We are so thankful for the work that you do here at Boyd to ensure that our PPE needs are being met and new technologies are brought to life. On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you.
“The work that is being done right here in Lee is helping our nation address the health and economic crises it faces due to the pandemic,” said Neal. “Ultimately, our economy won’t recover until we beat the virus.
“The Boyd family, and that is what this business is — a family, is contributing to the comeback. The number of good businesses that are starting right now and the creativity and innovation happening right now are vastly underreported.”
Boyd agreed that the one upside, if there is one, of the last year is the great leaps the American medical field is making.
“We continue to see extraordinary developments in the life sciences and medical device markets,” Boyd said. “Breakthrough technologies and innovations are improving the lives of the patients we serve now more than ever.”