Nurse's father's car part factory pivots to making PPE for medical workers

At Cadillac Products in Roseville and Troy, they have shifted from car parts and packaging to making personal protection equipment.

The PPE is in the form of gowns for the healthcare workers on the front lines.

"We put out the call for help to support this effort and here they are - didn't have to look very far or ask more than once," said Mike Williams, GM of Cadillac Products.

Williams say his employees volunteered to come back to work - when his cousin Maggie asked for help.

"We are literally and physically in the infected patient's face," said Maggie Williams. "And without the proper PPE, we're not only putting ourselves at risk but everybody who comes in contact with us."

Maggie is a nurse anesthetist at Sinai Grace, a Detroit hospital that's been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. She knew that she and her co-workers might need more protection, so she turned to her family business for help.

"There had been a news article about the nurses in New York wearing garbage bags," said Robert Williams, Jr. CEO of Cadillac Products. "And my daughter knows we do a lot of stuff with plastics so she said, 'Dad can you make a garbage bag big enough in case we need it,' and I said, 'Well I think we can do better than that.'

"I said - I think we can make gowns for you

Maggie's dad, Robert, says he's been pretty worried - so he was happy to be able to help.

"I worry about her and her husband's an ER doc at Beaumont so we're very concerned about both of them," he said. "We say a lot of prayers."

But now those prayers come along with a product - that they hope - will help save lives.

For a family-owned business formed in 1942 to meet defense packaging needs during World War II - it's a natural pivot. Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel toured the Roseville plant where the gowns are made, comparing the company's role now to its beginnings as part of the arsenal of democracy.

What we're creating and what we're seeing here in southeast Michigan is this arsenal of health

"And to see what they're doing, making these gowns, is truly innovative," Hackel said. "They -if you will - reverse engineered an actual gown, and started working with their own folks within this facility."

"We're going to make 14,000 this week and we're going to make 40,000 next week," said Mike.

Mike says Sinai Grace hospital is picking up gowns every Thursday at noon and Maggie and her colleagues are wearing those gowns - grateful to all of the people making them.

"We will be forever in their debt, so I do want to thank them very much for doing this for us," Maggie said.

The company says it's the least they can do for Maggie and all of our heroes in health care on the front line.

"When I do see people at the hospital wearing the gowns that my family business has supplied it's wonderful," Maggie said. "It almost brings tears to my eyes - it's so exciting."