Mike Jensen from the Philadelphia Inquirer gets candid with Boathouse Founder and CEO, John Strotbeck, about Boathouse's new business fighting COVID-19.
Excerpt from The Philadelphia Inquirer article "North Philly’s Boathouse Sports, run by a former Olympic rower, switches gears to make masks and other coronavirus PPE" by Mike Jensen.
Growing up in Margate, attending Atlantic City High, Strotbeck had been a lifeguard in the summer, his rowing stroke adapted to rough waters. Which brings us to today, to the rough seas of a coronavirus pandemic, which shut down life as most know it, including the prosperous local sports-apparel business Strotbeck had built over decades, which was suddenly deemed nonessential.
“We were shut down,’’ Strotbeck said of his Boathouse Sports operation, run out of Hunting Park Avenue. “Had to furlough everybody, including myself. About 200 people.”
The following week, Strotbeck was talking to a couple of friends who are nurses in New York. He can’t remember which one mentioned the urgent need for masks and other personal protective equipment. A light went on. Hospitals had surgical filters and wraps, he was told, that weren’t being used for elective surgeries. He had a factory full of sewing equipment.
“We got a few samples,’’ Strotbeck said, and he sent them to the big local hospital systems. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia got back to him right away. “They basically approved them that same day. We made them into masks.”
They delivered their first pallet two weeks ago, and began a project to make surgical gowns.