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Packaging Manufacturer Pivots to Meet Demand for PPE

As the pandemic surged, one company turned itself into an essential maker of face shields and medical gowns.

By Megan Ryan | December 14, 2020

In a new series of interviews, we’ll share a snapshot of what it takes to navigate the ever-changing challenge of running a business. In this video, Cashin White, BOK Financial regional manager of business banking, chats with Tom McNamara, president of Protective Packaging Solutions.

Like many business owners, 2020 has been quite a ride for Tom McNamara and his team at Protective Packaging Solutions (PPS).

When the pandemic hit and the economy shut down in March, the Colorado-based manufacturer, which designs and produces custom packaging for manufacturers across industries, had to move quickly.

In response to the shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE), the company declared themselves essential and pivoted its operations in just a few days to make face shields and die cut medical gowns.

“It was a lifesaver for the company,” McNamara said. “I mean, just because our existing business still wasn't coming in ... those two PPE opportunities were really kind of the silver lining for us.”

McNamara and his brother, Bob, purchased the company 15 years ago. “We knew nothing about the foam packaging business whatsoever when we got into it, but with our background, we felt we could come up to speed pretty quickly,” McNamara said. “I really had to learn how to speak the language of the industry that we were in.”

The company employs approximately 85 workers and operates plants in Aurora, Colorado, and Cincinnati, Ohio.

McNamara said the abrupt onset of a crisis taught him several things.

“When crisis hits, don’t freeze. Just move and move fast,” he said. “Throughout this whole process, as I watched all this new stuff we're getting into, I looked at the mirror and thought, ‘Why didn't I do this earlier? Why did it take a crisis for me to have to go do this?’

“Then I remind myself that's how a business has to survive; you have to be in offensive mode and not in defensive mode.”

He says the adaptations made during the early months of the crisis are expected to pay dividends and broaden the company’s potential client base in the long run.

Watch the video for more of McNamara’s insights. Then, check back for more conversations with BOK Financial, Bank of Oklahoma, Bank of Texas and Bank of Albuquerque Commercial Banking clients.