KELOWNA, BC, April 20, 2021 /CNW/ – One Kelowna manufacturing company, Breathe Medical Manufacturing Ltd.(“Breathe”), is celebrating a significant milestone less than one year into its whirlwind emergence. Breathe just completed the last shipment of a contract for 46 million masks with the Public Health Agency of Canada (“PHAC”) to distribution centres across the country.
Breathe’s CEO Robert Balazs could not be prouder of his team as he reflects on the achievement: “At this time last year we didn’t even have a facility, and had only just secured the federal contract to produce ASTM Level 1 masks that allowed us to set the wheels in motion. We received the keys to an empty warehouse shell in May 2020. Our first round of equipment arrived in June, and production was fully up and running by August. Since then, our team has been working around the clock—we run 24 hours per day, 7 days per week—to provide safe, high-quality masks to front line workers across all sectors. It’s a tremendous accomplishment.”
Growing rapidly, and currently employing more than 175 people out of its Kelowna production facility, Breathe is located near major transportation and distribution routes (including the Kelowna International Airport). While the main effort has been focused on completing its commitment to the federal government, the company has also serviced contracts ranging from a few thousand units per month up to the millions of units required monthly in the PHAC contract. Now Breathe is working with its national and international distributors to supply to additional markets and industries, including provincial and regional health agencies, dental offices, industrial sites, food processors, educational institutions, and health and beauty care facilities that will require ongoing access to safe, high-quality, “made in Canada” PPE long after the COVID-19 pandemic diminishes.
“COVID-19 has taught all of us that Canada needs to establish its own high-quality PPE supply chain. This is after we experienced Canada’s vulnerability, marked by panic buying, lack of inventory, shipping delays, and quality-related recalls at the start of the pandemic last spring,” said Balazs. “Not only that, Breathe is creating high-quality jobs in our communities. Many of our production staff came from industries such as hotels and casinos that were severely impacted by the events of 2020, particularly here in the Okanagan where tourism and hospitality are such a vital part of the local economy. We know we are making a difference right here at home in British Columbia.”
Breathe Medical Manufacturing Ltd. is also a founding member of a new industry association committed to fuelling the long-term growth of this emerging industry. The Canadian Association of Medical Mask Manufacturers (CAMMM www.cammm.ca) is working to build relationships and be a strong voice around mask manufacturing issues between federal/provincial governments, industry partners and the public.
Balazs commented on the next year of business: “Looking ahead to the next 12 months, the team at Breathe is continuing to push forward with product innovation. In response to customer demand and feedback, MRI-compatible masks, masks with anti-fogging technology, and 95PFE respirators are all in various stages of development, regulatory approval and production. The company is developing good jobs that are close to home and focused on an important mission: helping to keep Canadians safe.”