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‘We Still Make Things’

‘We Still Make Things’

Michelle Tedford August 10, 2021

A short documentary about how the region responded to the need for personal protective equipment during the height of the pandemic highlights the success of a team of UD Research Institute staff.

We Still Make Things by film director Ian Cook premiered April 7 at the Cleveland International Film Festival. It follows the staff at FastLane, a nonprofit housed within UDRI that helps small and medium-sized manufacturing companies, as they use their expertise to design isolation gowns and help an auto parts manufacturer retool to produce the PPE needed by local hospitals.

Alex Hoffman, FastLane’s manufacturing growth specialist and chief technical coordinator for the PPE project, said seeing the finished documentary was moving.

“Watching it took me back to that moment in time during the pandemic when we honestly didn’t know what the future would bring,” he said. “We asked ourselves, ‘What are we going to do, and how are we going to be of help?’”

Premier Health reached out to FastLane Director Phil Raterman with an urgent need for isolation gowns. Team members including Priscila McCarty and Mark McCormick evaluated designs, materials, production methods, costs and local manufacturing capability while working with Premier to assess its needs and solicit feedback on various designs.

“Because of COVID safety protocols, we were often meeting in the circle drive in front of the Miami Valley Hospital to discuss the latest designs.” —Alex Hoffman, manufacturing growth specialist and chief technical coordinator, FastLane

The film’s executive producers are local filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, who won the 2020 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for American Factory.

“It was a little weird having cameras around, but I got used to it, tried to answer the questions that were asked and completed the tasks that were in front of me.” —Hoffman

Film footage includes gown production at auto parts manufacturer Industry
Products Co. in Piqua, Ohio. FastLane helped the company retool to produce tens of thousands of gowns.

“Innovation is alive and well within the Dayton community. These three organizations [Premier, UDRI and IPC] have set an example on speed, collaboration and out-of-the-box thinking that will continue to remind us that Dayton can do anything.” —Lainie Dean, system vice president, strategy and business development for Premier Health

FastLane also worked on design and production plans for face masks, face shields and hand sanitizer.

A better mask