Thursday, April 18, 2024

Pandemic inspires fabricator Daniels Wood Land to quickly shift gears to PPE production

From Fire-Breathing Dragons to Protective Gowns

By Martin Palicki

Last week, InPark editor Judith Rubin asked how themed entertainment companies might be able to think creatively to solve real-world problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe. Judith focused on the expected shortfall of ventilators in the US, but California-based Daniels Wood Land was already thinking they might be able to contribute to the cause by moving in a different direction.

After the State of California instituted a stay at home order on March 19, 2020, Daniels Wood Land (DWL) was forced to stop production in its new 40,000 square foot facility in Paso Robles, CA. Known for creating and building everything from treehouses and shooting galleries to themed environments and animatronic figures, DWL recognized they might be uniquely positioned to help meet a need in their local community, and the nation at large.

At the IAAPA Expo 2019, Daniels Wood Land showcased an animatronic dragon they had recently built for Great Wolf Lodge.

According to Daniel Wood Land’s EVP Business Development Andy Dauterman, DWL owners and managers immediately met to figure out how to help support the fight against COVID-19. They connected with community leaders dealing with the pandemic and learned that there would be a critical shortage of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). DWL realized they might be able to utilize their state-of-the-art workshop and skilled staff to help solve that problem.

“We are builders and fabricators, so we knew we could produce something quickly that was helpful to the cause,” explains Dauterman. “Our local Fire Department presented us with a plastic disposable gown that was in short supply. We took their sample, figured out how to build it and made a prototype in 24 hours.”

City officials approved the prototype and placed an order within days.

The non-sterilized protective gown is designed for first responders who come into contact with someone who may have the COVID-19 virus. It is created from a material DWL has worked with and which was available for bulk ordering. Dauterman expects their workforce to be able to manufacture upwards of 50,000 gowns per day at full capacity.

“We cleared out an area of our fabrication facility and set up individual workstations following CDC guidelines, designed to keep our staff safe,” says Dauterman. Stations are kept a minimum of 10 feet apart and workers are provided with individual PPE. Each employee produces the full garment from raw material to finished product, to minimize the amount of contact between staff.

The ingenuity and quick thinking has allowed DWL to re-open as an essential business. “At DWL our goals were two-fold: First, we wanted to do the right thing for the community and for the people directly helping to mitigate this pandemic,” says Dauterman. “Second, we wanted to keep the heartbeat of the company going, by providing work and paychecks for our employees.” He points out that the people creating these gowns are sculptors and welders who are here for the greater community and to help solve a national problem. “It absolutely is a wartime effort,” says Dauterman.

In addition to orders coming in from across California, Dauterman has been reaching out to other first responder units across the country who may also be experiencing shortages. “There’s no playbook for this kind of work,” says Dauterman. “I’m relying on the internet and social media to find organizations that might be short of PPE gowns.”

DWL is also working on developing solutions for face shields and face masks. “We anticipate sharing prototypes for those products with our local authorities in the coming days,” says Dauterman. If approved, they could start being produced by the end of this week. 

If you know of a need for additional PPE supplies in your community, contact Andy Dauterman at [email protected].

Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki owns and publishes InPark Magazine. Started in 2004, InPark Magazine provides owners and operators the perspective from "in"side the "park." Martin has also written for publications like Sound & Communications, Lighting & Sound America, Attractions Management and others. Martin has been featured in Time Magazine, and Folio. Martin lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

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