Yeti Cycles making face masks during coronavirus outbreak

Count Golden’s Yeti Cycles, a manufacturer of mountain bikes, among the many U.S. companies that have pitched in to produce personal protective gear in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since production began April 13, Yeti has produced 9,500 face shields at its Golden headquarters toward a commitment of 20,000 it expects to complete by the first week in May. As of Friday, more than 8,300 had been delivered to 117 different beneficiaries that have included Children’s Hospital, St. Anthony’s Hospital, Jefferson County Open Space and the Golden Police Department, the company said.

“When it came to distribution, we called on the local community to help us get in touch with healthcare workers, first responders and those in need via social media,” said Yeti marketing director Kristi Jackson. “Our initial commitment was to product 10,000 face shields. Within the first 24 hours we doubled our commitment in an effort to support the overwhelming response from the community.”

In addition to the face shields, Yeti was able to acquire 24,000 medical-grade masks from one of its suppliers. Masks and shields are being distributed free of charge, an effort Jackson said would cost the company $100,000.

Yeti got the idea from Utah-based DPS skis, which also has been manufacturing face shields. There is a connection between the companies because Yeti chief financial officer Bill Mueller is a member of the DPS board of directors. Mueller brought the idea to Yeti owner Steve Hoogendoorn, who worked up a prototype from a template created at the University of Wisconsin, his alma mater.

“We acquired a die-cutting machine needed to produce the main plastic component, the shield,” Jackson said. “Our friends at Smith Optics and Black Diamond jumped onboard, donating straps, and graphics were provided by Victory Circle Graphics. The rest of the materials were sourced from our supply chain. Within seven days we procured all the raw materials, equipment and established a production protocol.”

Close collaboration of the companies made it possible to begin production quickly.

“We typically design products from the ground up, but in this case we wanted an efficient way to make the most effective thing,” Hoogendoorn said in an email. “Time is critical, so we’re doing it with materials we’re pulling together from industry friends and available through our supply chain. It’s not surprising, but everyone we contacted wanted to help, and their help was critical in this coming together so quickly.”

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