Geneva company switches gears to produce vital parts for ventilators needed for COVID-19 patients

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In mid-March the ABC7 I-Team found a west suburban manufacturing company asked to adjust its business to focus on producing parts for medical ventilators. The family owned business in Geneva pivoted to near wartime production to make the vital pieces. The company has churned out more than 52-thousand parts since last month to help ease the panic over whether the U.S. would have enough ventilators for everyone who needs one.

Rich Hoster is President of Smith & Richardson Manufacturing. He says there are "two different customers that we're receiving orders from and they're supplying a couple of different ventilator companies."

Smith & Richardson is producing six different parts, using six different machines, six days a week.

"Well we're busier than normal in certain areas. You know, we've got the machining area of our business that supplies, though a lot of medical device components, ventilators included and that's very, very, busy. We've got some parts of our business that are transportation related and we've seen a slowdown mainly because of the auto industry shutdowns on that side of the business," Hoster told the I-Team.

A little more than a month ago, the metal manufacturer was asked to put orders for the parts ahead of other business in order to increase the production of ventilators that were in short supply. The machines have been vital in treating coronavirus patients.

The I-Team analyzed data provided by state officials. It shows twenty four percent of Illinois' 3,219 staffed ventilators are currently being used by COVID-19 patients. The state is using an additional 428 ventilators compared to two weeks ago.

"Everybody's trying to do what they can to get parts placed with various manufacturers to help. But the whole team is very honored to be doing that...we are doing what we can to help with this cause," said Hoster.

He said his workers are able to socially distance while at work and they remain healthy. As a precaution, the plant will close this weekend for a top to bottom cleaning.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.