The SHOWA Group, which has been located in Fayette for over 50 years, is hiring new people every week to keep up with the increase in demand for their gloves brought on by COVID-19.
SHOWA is the only American manufacturer of single-use nitrile gloves that have become an in-demand form of personal protective equipment (PPE) since March of 2020.
This spring, the company is set to finish an expansion, first announced in 2019, that will add around 80 jobs to the Fayette plant.
Yellowhammer News spoke this week with Mike Kimple, SHOWA’s director of manufacturing, and Scott Robertson, the plant manager at SHOWA’s facility in Fayette, about how their business has traversed the pandemic and what lies ahead.
Kimple noted that it was actually SHOWA that invented the single-use nitrile glove decades ago. “Of course, that glove has been copied by everyone and their brother in Asia now, and we are the last remaining producer of those gloves in the United States,” he stated.
SHOWA’s workers at their current facility were classified as essential workers during government shutdowns in the spring of 2020, and their work continued.
“I started noticing these t-shirts show up pretty early in COVID,” relayed Robertson in response to a question about how the pandemic affected morale at the plant.
“Across their front, it would say ‘Essential Worker,’ and on the back, it would have our logo,” Robertson continued.
“We didn’t issue those; they got them made themselves out of pride that they are an essential worker,” he remarked about the employees he manages.
“I worried about what morale would be like, but it has actually not been a problem at all,” Robertson concluded.
SHOWA’s ongoing expansion included the construction of a new building at their site in Fayette; in which they are installing two of what Kimple called the “latest and greatest new production lines.”
“We expect that when this expansion is complete we’ll actually double our production in these single-use gloves,” Kimple relayed.
The coronavirus pandemic increased the scope of SHOWA’s Fayette expansion. According to Kimple, the original idea was to have one new state of the art production line in the new building, but they added an order for a second line in the spring of 2020 as a result of increased demand.
The first of the two lines is on track to be completed in April, and the second is planned to finish the fabrication process by June or July, per the executives.
SHOWA’s new building at their Fayette property will have room for two more production lines in addition to the couple the firm is already installing.
“We anticipate doing that,” said Kimple of going to four total lines in the new building, “demand is just through the roof.”
Robertson, the plant’s manager, said that “right now we’re hiring to match and try to increase our current capacity.”
“All of our hiring right now has been to keep pace with coronavirus demand on our existing equipment,” he explained.
Robertson said SHOWA has been hiring “roughly eight people a week” in recent months.
“As far as the expansion production jobs go, we haven’t even really started hiring those yet. All of those jobs are still open and available,” he noted.
SHOWA is mainly looking for general production workers “where you just need a faster learner, hard worker, that type of person,” said Robertson, adding that applicants did not need to have a large amount of experience to be considered.
“We have a long history of promoting within the company, so you can work your way up to supervisor and things like that,” noted Kimple
Those interested in applying for work at SHOWA can find more information here.