Spider Helpers: Robins School alumni doing their part to help fight COVID-19

April 27, 2020
From food donations to creating PPE, our Robins School Spiders are working together to fight COVID-19 from coast to coast.

From food donations to creating PPE, our Robins School Spiders are working together to fight COVID-19 from coast to coast.

“In the wake of our factories being deemed non-essential and closed as well as the frightening surge in infections here in New York and the lack of medical protective equipment, we wanted to do something to help,” said John D’Addario, ’93, whose company, D’Addario, developed a prototype for face shields out of drumheads in three days. 

The company created a production process, expedited additional raw materials, and is now underway manufacturing face shields for medical institutions, as well as other essential services like fire departments.   

“I am very proud of our team’s ingenuity and we are very eager to do what we can to help,” D’Addario said. 

Similarly, Jason Ellis, R’89, senior vice president of medical textiles at Cupron, Inc., began working with Sentara Healthcare in Virginia Beach to create reusable masks out of the company’s hospital-grade bedsheets.

“What a month,” Ellis said. “The transition has been rewarding and exhausting for a company of only 12 people." 

Cupron, a copper-based antimicrobial technology company based in Richmond, has a specific product, copper-based bedsheets, that it makes for hospitals. 

“We permanently embed our proprietary copper technology into synthetic polymers, such as polyester and nylon, to create materials with antimicrobial properties,” Ellis said. “Our core business is manufacturing and selling copper-infused medical textiles to hospitals. After conducting years of research and clinical trials, the study results proved that replacing regular patient textiles with our copper textiles is an effective complement to infection prevention practices.”

The fabric’s unique features make it ideal for reusable PPE, which Cupron is now selling to hospitals, commercial laundries, the U.S. Navy, shipbuilders, and warehouse workers.

“Finding new uses for our technology and creating new products is exciting, but we can’t drop the ball when it comes to serving the customers who helped us grow to this point,” Ellis said. “How we allocate our resources is as important today as it has ever been.”

But the Spider web of helpers doesn’t end there. John Leahy, B’79, of Target Marketing Group is sourcing PPE and hand sanitizers for hospitals. In just three weeks, CEO Dave Raiser, ’06, and his team at Aldatu Biosciences developed a test for detecting the coronavirus. Last month, we featured James Orioli, '21, and his business, At Your Service Party Rentals LLC., which has developed tents for multiple hospitals in the New York area, providing space to expand triage units to accommodate incoming patients.

Dean Mickey Quiñones says alumni who step up in a crisis is what the Robins School philosophy is all about.

“At the Robins School we believe that business can and should be a force for good in society,” Quiñones said. “We are very proud of all our students and alumni who are living out this value by making an impact in their communities. Everything we teach helps prepare our students to be adaptive and resilient during challenging times.” 

You can find out more about Spiders doing their part at https://spiderpride.richmond.edu/

Now, more than ever, Spider business-owners need our support. If you are looking to support small businesses during this time, consider visiting our Support Spider Businesses page, to learn about our alumni entrepreneurs and their ventures.