Puritan was recently honored with the 2020 Freedom in Opportunity Award by the Maine Policy Institute. This prestigious award is presented annually to the citizen or business that best demonstrates a commitment to improving the economic well-being of Maine.
While the award is local, it nonetheless exemplifies what Puritan, our leadership and employees are all about. When the coronavirus pandemic struck in March, we faced demand that was more than significantly more than our current capacity, perhaps the most enormous challenge in our 100-year history.
The speed of our response is one of the key factors that Puritan is being recognized for. As the leading manufacturer of the type of swabs needed for COVID-19 testing, we were tasked by the U.S. government to immediately expand capacity. Within just a few days, we identified local partners who could provide a facility and machinery. In record time, just two months later, our new plant began producing swabs.
Originally challenged to expand production by 20 to 40 million swabs per month, our new plant is on track to produce 90 million per month. Recognizing we needed even more capacity, we began working on a third facility, scheduled to open in early 2021. This will help us meet demand for medical testing supplies for years to come, which is predicted to remain high even after the pandemic.
In addition to rising to the challenge of COVID-19 testing needs, the award also honored us for adding 300 new jobs in Pittsfield, where the new facility is located, In the coming months, we expect to add 200 more jobs there too. With this expansion, we’ve been credited with essentially bringing back manufacturing to a community that has lost many similar jobs.
To get all these new workers up to speed quickly, we once again turned to our local partners, this time the Maine Community College System (MCCS) and Maine MEP, an economic development organization that supports manufacturers. We was awarded approximately $200,000 in funding from MCCS. Maine MEP delivered 16 hours of onboarding training, which meant that our employees were ready for on-the-job training on day one.
While Puritan’s leadership was responsible for the key decisions made, company officials credit our workers for the accomplishments this past year. As a company, we firmly believe in the homegrown innovation that happens within our walls and are known for investing in our people through continuing education as well as promoting from within. And the commitment is mutual. Even with expanded capacity, our employees continue to volunteer for long hours so they can do even more to save the world, one swab at a time.