In November, I told the story of DemeTech Corp., a family-owned manufacturer of surgical products in Miami. Although the company had never made personal protective equipment, when the pandemic hit last spring, it hired around 600 workers and invested several million dollars to get into the PPE business. It was soon manufacturing N95 masks and other equipment that hospitals needed urgently.
Sales took off. Because of the higher labor costs in the U.S., the company’s masks were more expensive than those made in China. With PPE so difficult to come by, buyers didn’t care. Yet by November, when I interviewed the company’s vice president, Luis Arguello Jr., Chinese companies had started winning back some of that business.