Protecting the community: Fire & Pine produces face shields during coronavirus pandemic

(By Anthony Garzilli, Published in Hilton Head Monthly)

Designing and manufacturing wood-burned maps, home décor artwork and custom logos has been Fire & Pine’s business for three years.

The burgeoning brand on Short Cut Road in the Okatie area of Jasper County has evolved from selling its products to a dozen stores to a national presence serving more than 500 retail outlets.

Owner Ryan Martz said Fire & Pine was primed for more growth this year when the novel coronavirus pandemic threatened to bring business to a halt.

But Martz wasn’t deterred. Instead he decided to act.

Since late March, as a way to help healthcare workers and keep much of his staff employed, Fire & Pine has transitioned to producing protective face shields.

Martz realized he had the equipment and an eager staff ready to make shields that nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers wear to block splatter and protect the N95 masks they also wear.

“I knew we had a creative and hard-working team and we have this great machinery that not a lot of people have,” Martz said

With the equipment and staff in place, Martz and his team began working with designs and test batches. With some help from the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a non-profit that consults with business strategies, Fire & Pine realized it could make thousands of shields – and fast.

A finished wood piece normally takes 25 steps, Martz said, but producing a shield takes three steps: lasers cut out patterns for the PET shield; pre-sized foam is applied; and an elastic head band is cut and stapled to the shield.

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