Medicom is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and distributors of high-quality infection control products and personal protective equipment (PPE), including surgical, procedure and respiratory face masks. For over 32 years, Medicom has been dedicated to using state-of-the-art technology, continuous innovation and carefully selected materials to manufacture products that meet even the most stringent regulatory standards. It is that dedication, along with our scientific expertise, our manufacturing facilities spread across three continents and our expansive network of raw material suppliers that have earned Medicom the trust of healthcare professionals across the globe. But never has our commitment to quality and reliability been put to the test as it has been throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Proven reliability in times of crisis
As a company that was founded to meet the need for medical gloves at the height of the AIDS crisis, Medicom was no stranger to meeting exponential demand for PPE during a health emergency. In fact, long before the COVID-19 outbreak, the company had already proven itself to be a reliable provider of infection control solutions during the Avian Flu, SARS, H1N1 and Ebola epidemics. As a result, when COVID-19 began to spread across the globe, Medicom was uniquely positioned to increase production in the face of yet another health crisis.
Medicom: uniquely positioned to meet the demands of COVID-19
By the time the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020, Medicom had already stepped up to help meet the exponential demand for essential personal protective equipment, including face masks. At the first signs of increased demand, the company had ramped up production at its factories in China, France and the U.S. However, on January 31, the Chinese government temporarily requisitioned all masks produced in that country. Fortunately, Medicom was able to offset the impact of the Chinese mask export restrictions by accelerating mask manufacturing at our factories in France and the U.S.
Kolmi-Hopen mask factory in France
Medicom’s Kolmi-Hopen factory is located in Saint-Barthelemy-d’Anjou near Angers, France. The 14,300 square meter plant is France’s leading surgical and respiratory mask producer. Following the implementation of restrictions on the export of masks from China, the Kolmi-Hopen team was able to swiftly increase its production output to help ensure ongoing supply for Medicom customers. Whereas prior to the pandemic, the facility had been producing around 170 million masks per year, that number quickly jumped to 500 million. Employees began working overtime and additional personnel were hired to further increase output.
However, as the Chinese government had done in late January, on March 3, the French government requisitioned all respiratory masks produced in France for use in that country. On March 31, French President Emmanuel Macron toured the Kolmi-Hopen factory, highlighting his government’s partnership with France’s top mask producer and assuring French citizens that his government was working with the experts at Kolmi-Hopen to further increase capacity and mask output. While this was good news for Medicom’s French customers, Medicom’s United Medical Enterprise (UME) plant in Augusta, Georgia, U.S.A. was now the company’s only remaining mask factory that could export its output.
United Medical Enterprise (UME) plant in the U.S.
Once again, Medicom was able to adapt by ramping up mask production in the U.S. Our team at UME promptly added extra shifts, hired more employees and secured the additional raw materials needed to ensure ongoing supply for our customers. By October 6, with demand for medical masks in the U.S. showing no signs of slowing down, Medicom announced that we would be adding a second U.S. factory, also in Augusta, Georgia, with triple the square footage of our existing plant and new state-of-the-art surgical and N95-type mask production equipment. With the opening of our second American factory, Medicom has quadrupled production output in the U.S. This additional capacity will allow Medicom to increase supply of medical-grade masks and N95-type respirators for the U.S. market during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and help ensure that the U.S. is well-equipped to meet future needs.
Further expansion of our manufacturing footprint
Although France and China eventually lifted their restrictions on mask exports, as the number of COVID-19 cases continued to grow, so did the number of countries running out of essential PPE, especially masks. After experiencing shortages due to export restrictions, the importance of securing local supply of masks was becoming increasingly apparent to governments around the world.
Medicom’s expertise, along with its considerable experience navigating government contracts and establishing mass production capabilities, made it an attractive partner for governments seeking to secure local supply to meet both current and future needs. As a result, over the course of 2020, the governments of Canada, Quebec, Singapore, France and the U.K. partnered with Medicom to take advantage of our mask manufacturing expertise and our ability to quickly establish local mask factories.
Canadian and Quebec governments among the first to partner with Medicom
On March 31, 2020, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his government would provide financial support for the establishment of a Medicom factory in Canada. On April 20, Medicom announced that the new Canadian mask factory would be located in Montreal, Quebec, not far from our head office. The same day, the Quebec Government announced that it would invest $4 million to help accelerate the opening of the Montreal factory.
Medicom’s new 60,000 square foot Montreal factory was up and running in just over 3 months. With 15 new production lines and new state-of-the art mask machines, the plant has an impressive capacity of 150 million N95-type and surgical masks per year.
On May 22, Medicom confirmed that we had signed a long-term agreement with the Canadian Government to produce 20 million N-95-type respirators and 24 million surgical masks per year for the next 10 years. By August 11, Medicom confirmed that surgical mask production had already begun, with initial volumes dedicated to fulfilling our long-term contract with the Canadian Government.
On January 28, 2021, the Quebec Government announced that it too had signed a 10-year contract with Medicom to secure local supply of medical and N95-type masks for the province. The same day, Medicom announced that production at the Montreal factory had already increased beyond fulfilling our government contracts and that we had begun producing new lines of masks, including pediatric procedure masks and tie-on surgical masks.
Collaborations with the governments of Singapore, France and the U.K.
As the pandemic continued to spread, so did Medicom’s manufacturing footprint. On June 4, just two months after announcing plans for our new Canadian factory, Medicom announced the opening of a mask factory in Singapore. Established under the name KHM Engineering, the factory promptly began producing millions of masks per month.
Less than a week later, on June 10, Medicom announced plans to open a second Kolmi-Hopen factory in France, not far from its first French plant near Angers. Since export restrictions were lifted in France at the end of May, Medicom’s first Kolmi-Hopen had been able to resume supplying our customers in 26 European countries, as well as in Canada and Hong Kong. After our second French factory opened in July with 11 new lines and an optimized production schedule, our mask production in France tripled in just five months.
Shortly after announcing the opening of the second mask factory in France, the British government was the next country to seek a direct partnership with Medicom. On June 25, Medicom announced its intention to open a new mask manufacturing plant in the United Kingdom. The new plant in the UK, established as Medicom HealthPro Limited, will produce more than 100 million N-99 equivalent FFP3 respirator masks and more than 500 million IIR medical masks to meet local needs in the UK and create at least 75 new full-time skilled jobs. The UK government has enabled this investment through a long-term contractual commitment with Medicom.
Medicom has partnered with Berry Global Group Inc., the world’s leading producer of nonwoven fabrics, which will guarantee the supply of the materials critical to mask production over the span of the agreement.
Medicom’s unprecedented media coverage
Not surprisingly, Medicom’s explosive growth over the last year attracted unprecedented news coverage from some of the world’s largest publications and broadcast networks. Coverage included tours of our new and existing factories, details of our established mask expertise, as well as countless interviews with Medicom COO Guillaume Laverdure.
Although most of the media coverage focused on our stellar growth throughout the pandemic, some of the aspects of our story that we are most proud of were not covered as extensively, but deserve to be mentioned here:
- When companies with no PPE manufacturing experience began producing masks using the lowest cost materials and processes available, Medicom remained committed to producing the high-quality, reliable personal protective equipment that healthcare professionals have come to trust.
- When companies with no knowledge of the stringent regulatory requirements designed to keep healthcare professionals safe began falsely marketing their masks as “medical grade”, Medicom continued to enforce our rigorous quality controls to ensure that healthcare workers’ safety was never compromised.
- When other manufacturers raised their prices opportunistically to take advantage of unprecedented demand for masks and other PPE, Medicom increased prices only as necessary to meet its production costs.
- When other companies sold to the highest bidder, Medicom allocated supply to our loyal customers.
- While other companies allowed customer service fall by the wayside, Medicom remained committed to maintaining the unparalleled customer experience our customers have come to expect.
- While other companies focused purely on sales, Medicom maintained its commitment to education and knowledge sharing through its PACE-approval continuing education (CE) courses.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Medicom has been committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure ongoing supply of high-quality PPE for our customers and to help to keep front-line workers around the world safe.
More than ever before, we have lived our company purpose – Pride in Protection – and we will continue to do so throughout this pandemic and long after it is over.
To learn more about Medicom, our medical mask expertise and our complete portfolio of infection control products and personal protective equipment, please visit Medicom.com.