Asheville-based Kitsbow, Industry-Nine, Oweee Products & Watershed join forces to source raw materials, manufacture and meet demand for first responders and medical providers.
Old Fort, N.C. (March 25, 2020) — After pivoting its premium bike apparel production to make face masks and shields for first responders and medical providers in Western North Carolina, Kitsbow experienced unanticipated engagement from all over the U.S., with demand totaling more than 100,000 units in the first week. Asheville-based neighbor, Industry Nine, offered its expertise in large-scale manufacturing and sourcing of raw materials. In less than two days working together, the companies found a solution to yield 10,000 shields per day.
“We never expected to make personal protective equipment (PPE), but there are a lot of things that none of us ever expected about the current state of affairs,” said David Billstrom, Kitsbow CEO. “We were blown away by the demand and quickly turned to Industry Nine for help. We jumped into this—no paperwork—just putting our heads together and knocking out a better solution and a few design tweaks to make the face shields more manufacturable, in a shorter period of time.”
Industry Nine’s engineering teams have years of robotics and automation experience and were in a position to help Kitsbow with the manufacturing of parts needed to produce PPE shields and assisting supply efforts in combating the virus outbreak.
Industry Nine was just one of the many outdoor industry brands based in Western North Carolina to welcome Kitsbow to the area in December 2019, when Kitsbow hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the new factory in Old Fort.
Due to high demand, Kitsbow is only able to supply PPE to medical providers and first responder agencies on a first-come, first-served basis. See https://www.kitsbow.com/collections/medical for more information on the PPE products.
Kitsbow was established in Sonoma County, California eight years ago by dedicated mountain bikers and apparel industry veterans. Because its designers have logged years in the saddle, each detail is obsessively considered. Every element — down to zippers and reflective piping — is vetted for quality, style, and durability. Relocating its manufacturing to Old Fort, North Carolina in 2019, Kitsbow is committed to a Made to Order manufacturing model, minimizing waste and maximizing flexibility to serve the customer. Kitsbow already makes over 50% of its products in the U.S.A. and is on track to be making all of its products in-house by 2021. To learn more about Kitsbow, visit www.kitsbow.com.