How a small furniture company pivoted to medical supplies to stay afloat

When Matthew Moore’s company, Urban Plough Furniture, lost 80 percent of its business during the pandemic, he turned to an innovative new production strategy to stay afloat. Instead of making furniture, he began making intubation boxes for local medical facilities. 

Intubation boxes protect health care workers while inserting tubes into patients’ airways. Benjamin Reeser, a local emergency room physician, inspired Moore’s new project when he told him the hospital had been covering Covid-19  patients with plastic trash bags to protect themselves from viral particles. Reeser helped Moore with the design after hearing about a Taiwanese physician who had designed an intubation box in the form of an acrylic cube placed over a patient’s head with holes through which a physician could perform the procedure.

The Urban Plough team came up with five prototypes in a week before settling on a final design. Originally, they just made a few boxes for the local hospital, but as word spread, they began receiving requests from all over the region. 

With the help of the direct-to-consumer mattress company Tuft & Needle and a GoFundMe account, the company was able to create an affordable $150 model that could fold flat for shipping. They sent 350 around the world, with boxes going as far as South Korea. Another 30 to 40 businesses have also used the pattern to produce and distribute their own boxes. 

Last week we discussed the importance of versatility in business. This is a great example of a small business shifting direction to save lives and save themselves.

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