Oceanside Manufacturers Aid in Fight Against COVID-19

When the new coronavirus made its way to the United States, long-standing Oceanside manufacturer Pryor Products was tapped to join the fight against the deadly COVID-19 disease.

In a partnership with General Motors and Martinre, Pryor Products — which has been headquartered in Oceanside since 1990 — shipped 6,000 ventilator mobility stands globally in the last 30 days with plans to increase production to 10,000 next month. The company said production could increase to 50,000 per month if the U.S. government sees the need.

However, the rapid creation of the production wouldn’t have been possible without the hard workers found in Oceanside, said Pryor Products President Kevin Dailey.

“Traditionally the demand for these stands is a fraction of what we have seen of late and would be considered in general terms a flat market, as hospitals typically replace just a small percentage of their ventilators per year,” Dailey said. “When the pandemic emerged our first reaction was that we could not do this at the volumes being requested with the headcount that we had in place. The decision was made to meet part of the demand with a second and third shift. We were blessed to have those second and third shifts filled within five days. There is no shortage of people in Oceanside who still like to work hard.”

Joana-Kathleen Hannah creates face shields at MiraCosta College’s The Technology Career Institute. Courtesy photo

Some of those hard workers can also be found at MiraCosta College’s The Technology Career Institute, where students and their teachers have joined the cause. Students have created products such as face shields for healthcare workers and face masks for essential employees using donated materials. The students have also created a prototype for a UV box that can decontaminate masks.

Linda Kurokawa, Executive Director of Community Education & Workforce Development at MiraCosta College, said about 25 students and four instructors are working between eight-to-18-hour days on a volunteer basis to meet the demand.

“When this all unfolded, it dawned on me that students were sitting idle and instructors were eager to help,” Kurokawa said. “We reached out to organizations and they were eager to have our help.”

Kurokawa said students have so far created hundreds of face shields with agreements from local hospitals to create more. Even better, the students are getting hands-on experience in essential job programs.

Jason Mandell works on face shields at MiraCosta College. Courtesy photo

“These are really important jobs that give our students exposure during this time of crisis,” Kurokawa said. “For most of them who graduate on April 30, they will find jobs that they can easily walk into.”

Some of those jobs might be at Pryor Products, which was created 48 years ago in a La Jolla garage before company leaders settled in Oceanside because of the city’s supportive business community.

“Oceanside has always been an easy place to do business and the city leadership is highly supportive of helping businesses grow,” Dailey said. “The community’s solid talent pool of employees that seem to have the right mix of an attitude that couples a strong work ethic with a relaxed day-to-day mentality fits the company’s needs nicely.”

Dailey said keeping Pryor Products in Oceanside over the last 30 years has helped the company grow in immeasurable ways. He also foresees many of the employees hired in the last 30 days will stay on after the pandemic passes.

“Oceanside has always worked well for us and we have never been short of any resources that we needed when growing our business over the years,” Dailey said.

The partnership between the business community, the city, and the education sector is what makes manufacturing successful in Oceanside, Kurokawa said.

“From my experience, recruitment of students and encouragement of the manufacturing industry is very active in Oceanside,” she added. “There’s a strong incentive to hire local people and the manufacturing businesses are very supported.”