MAGIC VALLEY — In The Ditch Towing Products has been manufacturing equipment for the towing industry worldwide for years, but when their business started to decline due to the current pandemic, they decided to shift their focus to start helping first responders instead.
“I reached out to my doctor and he said yeah we definitely need face shields. So we started 3D printing them and this is our first round.” Chuck Ceccarelli, president of In The Ditch Towing Products, said.
The company decided to take advantage of their 3D printer and started using that to make face shields. So far the company has made 1,000 face shields and have donated them to local hospitals. When their face shields became more in demand, the company decided to start selling the them as a way to help out their employees, but they say if there is anyone who cannot afford the face shields, they will gladly donate them.
“Our intent was to donate them all. I had no idea that it was going to be in the tens of thousands that people need. So now we have donated about all we can,” Ceccarelli said.
The face shields have become so popular that the company has even been contacted by the U.S. Air Force for supply. Ceccarelli says the face shields have been a great way to help keep most of their employees employed during this time.
“Now we’re selling them as a way to help out and put people back to work. We have about 100 employees and about 70 percent of them are laid off right now,” Ceccarelli said.
When the pandemic hit, the company started to see a big decline in business. Most of the business they had over seas quickly declined leading them to have no other choice but lay some employees off.
“Yeah it’s interesting our overseas market just completely shut off. There was no ramp up, there was nothing, it just stopped,” Ceccarelli said.
The company says it plans on bringing some employees back, but it is a risky move, Ceccarelli says, because with every employee they bring back they run the risk of spreading the virus. Regardless, the company knew they had to do everything they could to help out their employees.
“You know these are defining moments as a company," Ceccarelli says. "You are either going to find a way or you’re not. We are going to look back at this moment and realize we did our part, we didn’t just sit on the sidelines and it’s a very good feeling.”
If you would like to purchase a face shield or donate to the company, visit their website.