During the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of WBENC-Certified women-owned businesses stepped up to meet the moment, quickly pivoting or expanding their business to provide critical supplies and services. Many businesses were called upon to help WBENC Corporate Members who were also adapting their business and processes to protect and support their employees, customers and the communities they serve.

One story perfectly encapsulates the synergies that exist in the WBENC network, when innovative and nimble WBEs thrive as critical suppliers to some of the country’s largest and most successful corporations.

In late March, when there was an overwhelming demand for PPE for frontline workers, General Motors converted a manufacturing facility in Warren, Michigan to produce masks – in less than seven days. The facility is now producing more than 3 million masks a month or 750,000 a week.

To help with this quick transition and critical need, GM turned to GDC, INC., a WBENC-Certified WBE in Goshen, Indiana, who was already a GM supplier of insulation for vehicle doors, headliners, and trunks. Over the course of one weekend, GDC, INC. switched gears and retooled their own plant to manufacture material for surgical face masks.

“Overall we are honored to have been able to support the amazing people at GM who chose to take action and make a difference during this national and global pandemic crisis,” says Chris Miller, GDC’s Vice President of Sales & Engineering. “The speed, passion and tireless efforts put forth by these teams showed the true corporate culture and character of GM. We are proud to be a GM supplier.”

Since early April, GM has donated more than 4 million face masks and 230,000 face shields to frontline workers, all made at the Warren facility. Earlier this month, GM received certification to start making N95 face masks as the same facility.

“Working with our cross functional teams and suppliers to produce flat face masks in less than 7 days, was one of the most fulfilling accomplishments that I have ever experienced in nearly 25 years at General Motors,” says Reggie Humphrey, GM’s Assistant Director of Supplier Engagement. “GDC played a critical role in our ability to produce CDC approved masks, by pivoting from its core products into a viable filtration fabric, which is typically purchased overseas and remains constrained. This is a story of true partnership, innovation, agility, market sustainability and most importantly community!”

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