A Mentor company that recently switched gears to meet the personal protective equipment demand is getting a financial boost from the city.
RB Sigma LLC recently relocated from the Matchworks building to 6111 Heisley Road to distribute and manufacture PPE products.
The company purchased two N95 machines and a surgical mask machine that will provide the capacity to make 7.5 million N95 and surgical masks per month.
The business — founded four years ago to offer organizational training in Lean Six Sigma — in April indicated that it would hire 15 employees for the new endeavor. Since then, it has hired 38 people with plans to add 25 more in the next year. Payroll for 2020 is projected to be about $400,000.
"There's a lot of unemployment right now, so I'm really glad we can do what we can," said RB Sigma founder Justin Bloyd, adding that another facility will be opened on Tyler Boulevard for warehousing and distribution.
He recently applied for a Mentor Economic Development Grant to assist with the costs associated with the build-out of the current building, renovations, new signage and the purchase and installation of machinery with an estimated total capital investment of $1.6 million.
Based on the program guidelines, the administration recommended an $8,000 grant, funded by nontax revenues. It was approved by City Council July 7.
“It’s a terrific thing for somebody like myself who uses a lot of PPE to see that we’re going to produce it right here in Mentor,” said Ward 1 Councilman Sean Blake, a home-care physical therapist who goes through several sets of such equipment daily. “My sense is that we still have not caught up with what we’re going to need for now and for the future.”
On May 5, the company opened its storefront for the general public to purchase PPE-related items. In addition, it donated 1,000 N95 masks and 500 surgical masks to the city for frontline workers.
"RB Sigma recognized the need for personal protective equipment early in the COVID-19 pandemic and quickly expanded their operations to meet the needs of first-responders, medical personnel and corporations efficiently,” said Mentor Economic Development Director Kevin Malecek.
“Their investment in machines to manufacture N95 equivalent masks here in Mentor is a prime example of a local company stepping up to supply for a societal need while hiring dozens of local residents to staff their operation."
He noted that the business now has contracts with more than 20 countries.
City Manager Ken Filipiak added, “They have agreed to provide masks at Mentor Rocks all summer long, so we appreciate that.”