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This article appeared in the August 2020 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

Six months ago, many businesses and certainly most individuals could not have clearly defined personal protective equipment (PPE). Now, it is a part of daily life. Masks, gloves and hand sanitizer are as much a part of our regular routine as cell phones, wallets and car keys.

But with so much PPE being allocated for specific use, many manufacturers continue to struggle with locating what they need when they need it. That’s where companies like come in.

You wouldn’t think it, but transitioned from being a sports memorabilia business to which now focuses on PPE in only a few short months. Why? Because they saw an unfulfilled need and they had the resources and experience to fill it.

“When we say we’re a family business, we mean it — it’s me, my mom and my dad,” said Daniel Obie, manager of “For 20 years we were only BigTimeBats and we had built a pretty strong system for distribution, sales, advertising and marketing — we are a trusted brand. When COVID-19 hit, sports were one of the first things to stall and we had to reimagine what we could be.”

Based in Mundelein, Illinois, Obie and his family knew they could effectively provide FDA-certified PPE to manufacturers by using their existing contacts in a different way.

“We all saw early on how PPE was in short supply and high demand,” Obie recalled. “Individuals and businesses couldn’t locate the necessary amounts to meet requirements to stay in operation. What was available was mostly directed to federal stockpiles and even hospitals and first responders were having to rely on poor substitutes. We thought we could help.”

With their breadth of knowledge in how to get the word out, the new PPE-focused business set about providing some interesting products for businesses in need including a diverse variety of mask offerings from NIOSH N95, three-ply disposable masks and KN95 masks to new options including a medical grade children’s face mask.

Obie also advises manufacturers looking to acquire PPE to ask crucial questions in their search:

  • Is the company I’m buying from reputable?
  • Once I get the product, is it something I can look up on the FDA website?
  • What’s the price point?
  • If it seems too good to be true, you should worry about its legitimacy.

“People need to feel safe in the workplace and with the right PPE in place, your team can worry less,” said Obie. “FDA-certified PPE is out there and available to the manufacturers that need it — if you are asking the right questions and connecting with the proper suppliers, you can obtain the PPE you need at a reasonable cost and have the confidence to push to full production.”

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