Murray’s Glass & Automotive Paint Begins Manufacturing Face Shields for Area Healthcare Workers

Tuesday, March 24, Dennis and Ron Farrar of Murray’s Glass & Automotive Paint in Marietta and Oesterle Auto Glass & Paint in Parkersburg made the difficult decision to close area stores through Monday, April 6, to protect the health and safety of both customers and employees. The same day, the brothers and their teams switched gears to embark upon the fabrication of reusable face shields from in-stock polycarbonate to protect front-line healthcare workers who lacked proper safety equipment.

“I saw a post from a friend, who is a nurse, and she was terrified of going to work and then coming home with the risk of giving something to her family,” Dennis Farrar said. “She works in the testing tent in Parkersburg, and her story prompted us to help. She literally is living in a camper in her backyard, away from her children and her husband. I just couldn’t imagine if that were my wife, or me, for that matter.”

The team at Murray’s has been hard at work making shields

According to Farrar, Murray’s had existing stock of 10 full sheets of polycarbonate, in 1/32” thickness, but he was unsure if the material would work. “Our first step was to track down a face shield to use as a template, and we made contact with the director of purchasing for WVU Medicine Camden-Clark Medical Center. She was reluctant to give one up, understandably, because they were in such short supply.”

Once they secured the face shield, Farrar was surprised by its flimsiness and cheap construction. “It was obviously imported and disposable; the shield itself was paper-thin, and I dented it just handling it. But, acquiring it gave us a way to create one of our own.

I really am fortunate to have such a great partner in this with my brother.

“Ours is much thicker and can be cleaned, sterilized, and reused. Polycarbonate is expensive and virtually unbreakable,” Farrar said.

Farrar and his team developed twelve original shields and delivered them to Camden-Clark Medical Center Thursday, March 26. Within an hour, he received word the shields were “awesome,” and his employees resumed assembling them.

On the second day, the team made 85 shields

“I really am fortunate to have such a great partner in this with my brother,” Farrar said. “Obviously we talk about decisions like this together, for both of our stores, and again, I really am grateful he shares the same mindset. It really, truly began out of a desire to help.”

Jeff Horner of Big A Muffler, across the street from Oesterle Auto Glass & Paint in Parkersburg, heard about the Farrars’ project and jumped in to purchase other supplies needed to manufacture the shields. “Jeff is a great neighbor and friend, and we have collaborated before on community-based projects,” Farrar said. “Another individual sent a message offering his 3D printer for the headband portion of the shield. If his samples work, we may be able to produce many more at a much faster rate.”

Andrea Greynolds at WVU Medicine Camden-Clark Medical Center

The offers of supplies and support persisted. One day after the first twelve masks were designed, developed, and delivered, the Farrars purchased the last remaining stock of the thin polycarbonate from their supplier in Columbus, and employees of Southeastern Ohio Medical Center in Cambridge offered to pick up and deliver the material, expediting the process and eliminating freight charges.

By the end of the day Friday, March 27, the businesses had joined forces to produce and deliver an additional 85 face shields to Camden-Clark Medical Center, Southeastern Ohio Medical Center, the Belpre and Marietta campuses of Marietta Memorial Hospital, and the Marietta fire department. Production continues, and since, shields also have been donated to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Coplin Health Systems.

After the businesses’ social media posts went viral, requests for the reusable face shields poured in from healthcare workers across the country. “We have been asked, through mutual friends, to send some to Chicago and as far out as California,” Farrar said. “Obviously, our first priority is our community, but if we can help beyond that, too, we are going to do it.

“Ron and I have put it all on the line here,” Farrar said. “None of our employees has been laid off, nor will they be. We absolutely will continue to make these and have a lot of stock left. Our employees are as dedicated to us as we are to them; they show up every day in this effort and do not stop. We could not be more proud of them! We also are extremely fortunate to have a great bank, Peoples Bank here in Marietta, that has helped us tremendously. If it weren’t for them, we would be out of business.”

We are willing to risk everything for the safety of our community and the healthcare providers working tirelessly in this fight.

According to Farrar, of the responses received via social media, a Fred Rogers quote sticks out. “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

“We have read every comment to our posts on social media,” Farrar said. We had no intention of getting publicity from this, and actually, I was reluctant to put it on our page. But the response has been overwhelming. We are willing to risk everything for the safety of our community and the healthcare providers working tirelessly in this fight. Our intentions are as clear as our character, and we ask for nothing in return. We all are in it together.”