U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner tours Greeley’s Genesis Plastics

United States Senator Cory Gardner was in Greeley Thursday for a quick tour of a local manufacturing facility, Genesis Plastics Technology, where the relatively small, family-owned local thermaformer had recently turned on a dime to meet a need created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genesis, which typically produces plastics goods that include products like food packaging and light fixtures, found itself pushing out as many as 200,000 pieces of a medical-grade plastic face shield in a two-week period, and as many as half a million over the course of a few months.

“It was March 14, we were asked, what can we do,” said sales manager Jake Comer. “We need gloves, gowns, face shields. And there hearing face shields, the lightbulb went off. We can make face shields. The catch was, everybody needed product now.”

There were hurdles, but Comer said they were overcome through partnerships with others in the network of a group called the Colorado Manufacturers PPE Taskforce, a group brought together in order to meet the pandemic’s need in the state that was generated by Gov. Jared Polis and Polis’ former political adversary, Noel Ginsburg, who happens to be a plastics manufacturer himself.

“They said you want to talk plastics, talk to the guys in Greeley,” Comer said.

For Gardner, that was an exciting development to learn about.

“Manufacturing has seen a pretty strong rebound over the last several months,” Gardner said. “Here’s a place that saw employment increase because of the face shields. This is a story of Colorado ingenuity and innovation.”

For Genesis, having the ear of the senator was special.

“Having the opportunity to have someone like the senator here in our world, that’s invaluable to us,” said sales manager Jake Comer. “What we’ve found is from the standpoint of networking, that’s invaluable. I’ve been in sales 20 years, with the company since ’92, and all that work in years past has opened those doors. There’s not a lot of thermal formers in Colorado, basically one competitor in Denver. For him to be out there making his stops in other manufacturers and through his network, for him to throw out names in ponds we might not be fishing in, that’s invaluable.”

Gardner said his purpose in visiting manufacturing in the state is to be a connector, as well as to potentially even inform legislative decisions.

Gardner was aware, though, that not everywhere in the state or the nation was positioned to capitalize on the new pandemic market the way Genesis has. He said there was need in Congress to take steps for those folks, too.

“We need to extend and expand the Paycheck Protection Program that’s saved hundreds of thousands of jobs in Colorado and millions of jobs around the country, and I’d like to see a second draw, especially for restaurants and those hardest hit businesses,” Gardner said. “I think there’s support for that and I hope we’re voting on it soon. I’d like to see a plan I came forward with called Rehire America move forward, it’s helping support employees, make sure they get paid, provide support to businesses, especially for fixed costs. If you’re a business, one of the ways you have to control costs is labor force, unfortunately. Let’s help workers get their salary but also help with fixed costs.

“We were able to extend Paycheck Protection to about twice as long as it was going to be, now we need a second draw.”

Gardner said if he were in complete control, that would look as follows:

“Let’s take businesses with a revenue loss,” he said. “You already qualify for Paycheck Protection Program, or you’re a new person who qualifies. You get that loan or a second loan. I’d like to see expansion on that, something to help bring a business up to COVID-19 standards, shielding or spacing. I’d like to see the first priority go to the smallest of small businesses. I’m from Yuma, 500 people in a business is a massive business, 50 is. We need to see one, two, three people get that help.”

During the tour, Comer and general manager John Hunt bent the ear of the senator just a little about the struggle Genesis has had with some approvals in certain realms to maximize the marketability of their face shields.

Face shields are not by any means the primary product at Genesis, but since they’ve been able to begin pumping the product out with such efficiency, they’re looking to expand.

“Because of the time crunch, it was very challenging,” Hunt said. “We created a mold, had dyes created for us, and it was getting the assembly together to put it together. On some days, we had the entire manufacturing switched over to this. The folks here (on the floor) have been here a long time, we stand on their shoulders. Amazing group of people here.

“The approval process was through CU Anschutz, they’ve been approved by CU for specifically use in the pandemic.”

Gardner said he’d see what he could do.

“We want to make sure our office is a conduit to connect people,” Gardner said. “We’ll reach out and try to open doors. Can’t tell people what to do, but we can make sure they know about the opportunity.”


By: Cuyler Meade

Greeley Tribune