Troy School District donates facilities to manufacture face shields for hospital

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published June 9, 2020

 Precision Global Systems manufactured face shields at the former ITT Technical Institute Building, owned by the Troy School District, and at the Athens High School gymnasium, left, to fill a request for the personal protection equipment for Henry Ford Health System through a partnership with the school district.

Precision Global Systems manufactured face shields at the former ITT Technical Institute Building, owned by the Troy School District, and at the Athens High School gymnasium, left, to fill a request for the personal protection equipment for Henry Ford Health System through a partnership with the school district.

Photo provided by the Troy School District

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TROY — Richard Najarian, the president of Precision Global Systems — a Troy-based manufacturer of engines, powertrain components and other services for the automotive and defense industries — received an urgent request from Henry Ford Health Systems for face shields and other personal protection equipment at the end of March.

PGS was maintaining operations in its facility on Big Beaver Road and did not have the capacity to produce the personal protection equipment.

The former ITT Technical Institute building, which the Troy School District had purchased and is next to PGS, had been undergoing renovations before the coronavirus pandemic hit, but the work had stopped.

At a Sept. 17, 2019, meeting, the Troy School District Board of Education voted 5-1 to authorize the purchase of the vacant ITT building, on Big Beaver Road, for up to $4 million and to issue $6 million in bonds to finance the purchase and the $2 million needed to renovate the building. The ITT building will house the Troy School District College and Career High School and continuing education programs previously held at the Niles Center, which had been slated to be demolished after the building was deemed obsolete.

Board of Education Trustee Elizabeth Hammond opposed both measures, saying she wanted more information on the property purchase. Board Trustee Steve Gottlieb was absent.

The Niles demo has been postponed until further notice, according to Kerry Birmingham, the director of communications and strategic initiatives for the Troy School District.

When Najarian contacted the city of Troy for advice on how to proceed, city officials connected him with Troy School District Superintendent Rich Machesky and Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Rick West.

“It was a right-place, right-time situation,” West said in a prepared statement. “We had the space; they had the need; everybody won.”

PGS donated 1,000 of the face shields to the Troy School District. The district donated the space at ITT and Athens High School, where PGS relocated, free of charge, to support the effort, Birmingham said.

PGS began manufacturing face shields within a week of the request.

“We started producing 1,000, then 3,000 industry-grade face shields per day,” Najarian said in a prepared statement.

“And we kept 75 people — both permanent employees and temporary workers — employed and paid.”

PGS manufactured 500,000 shields, and Henry Ford purchased 100,000. The city of Troy also received 1,000 each at no cost. The face shields continue to be sold to other essential industry manufacturers so people are protected and can continue to work safely, Najarian said.

When contractors were available to resume renovation work at ITT in the beginning of May, PGS’s manufacturing efforts were relocated to one of the currently unused gymnasiums at Athens High School, where PGS said it would continue assembling the face shields and now also PPE-grade gowns until June 30.

“Their mission is to support health care and essential workers, and they are prepared to ramp up production, should a new wave of the virus resurface,” the release states.

“We were pleased that we could combine our efforts and happy Troy School District could contribute and help PGS do this very important work in a time of crisis,” Machesky said in a prepared statement.

For information on how to purchase personal protection equipment from PGS, visit unitage.net.

Najarian could not be reached for further comment.

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