Eastman Chemical Company (Eastman) rang the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to commemorate its centennial anniversary on Tuesday. According to the company, Mark Costa, Eastman CEO and board chair virtually rang the bell due to COVID-19.
“It’s an honor to ring the NYSE Opening Bell to commemorate our 100th anniversary,” Costa said. “In this highly competitive industry, we owe our sustained success to the dedication of our talented employees, our loyal customers and suppliers, and supportive global communities. We are committed to entering our next centennial with the same values, innovative spirit and resilience that have propelled us for a century.”
Eastman has been a member of the NYSE since it became a publicly traded company in 1994.
The Eastman Foundation (Eastman) recently announced it has committed $1 million toward supporting global response organizations in the wake of COVID-19.
“Given the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on all of us, it is important that we provide support in the communities where our employees live and work,” said Willie McLain, Eastman Foundation president.
According to Eastman, it will provide funding to organizations for food, shelter, medical personal protective equipment for frontline workers and community support. In Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, the company has donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee and the United Way of Greater Kingsport.
“We’re seeing families who never thought they would ever need to ask for food. Based on the trends, we could see that demand increase 30% over the summer,” said Rhonda Chafin, Second Harvest executive director. “With the help of community partners like the Eastman Foundation, we can continue to keep up with that demand to provide food to our most vulnerable neighbors.”
The United Way of Greater Kingsport is teaming with six other United Ways in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia to provide a collective response to the pandemic. The United Way chapters recently announced they will allocate a portion of their COVID-19 Relief Fund to the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency’s (UETHDA) Community Services program that helps households offset housing, rental, utility payments, and other basic needs during challenging times.
“The impact of COVID-19 is pervasive in our communities,” said Danelle Glasscock, executive director at the United Way of Greater Kingsport. “By teaming together and with the support of organizations like the Eastman Foundation, we can focus our response on the most critical needs of our citizens.”
“The work of these partners is especially critical right now. We are very proud to contribute to these efforts,” McLain said.
Eastman team members are helping support front line health care workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by providing materials to help make critical items needed for medical, health and hygiene products that are in short supply.
Eastman has made the following contributions:
- 10,000 face shields for Massachusetts hospitals, thanks to a collaboration with SMC Ltd.;
- Donated copolyester resins to PRP Creation as part of an effort by cosmetics companies to produce 475,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for health organizations in France;
- Distributed window film to Harlow College to produce 300 additional face shields for hospital workers in the United Kingdom;
- Collaborated with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and universities to help produce 10,000 face shields;
- Donated copolyesters to companies in Brazil to manufacture 20,000 face shields for hospitals; and
- Donated critical personal protective equipment (PPEP) including 180 N95 masks and 4,400 nitrile gloves to Massachusetts first responders.
The company has also converted a pilot plant at its largest U.S. manufacturing site to produce hand sanitizer for area schools and emergency responders.
“Quick, creative collaborations within our communities are making an impact,” said Mark Costa, board chair and CEO. “I am so proud of our hardworking Eastman employees who are guided by our shared vision that our work today will help slow down the spread of the virus tomorrow.”
Eastman recently announced it donated 600 square feet of material to Purdue University in response to COVID-19 needs. According to Eastman, more than 40 volunteer faculty and staff members are using the school’s laser cutting system to produce up to 3,000 lenses and 4,000 face shields. The protective equipment will be distributed to hospitals across Indiana.
“I’m proud of the speed at which the Eastman team was able to get material to the teams at Purdue,” said Brendan Boyd, specialty plastics and fibers technology vice president. “The need for more protective equipment is urgent. We value these innovative partnerships that can meet a significant community need quickly and effectively.”
The company notes, personal protective equipment (PPE) plays an essential role in protecting medical personnel and others on the front lines battling the epidemic. Meanwhile, safety glasses and face shields protect people from droplets produced by coughing and sneezing and can help prevent workers from touching their faces.
Purdue’s Bechtel Innovation Design Center is using a pilot-scale manufacturing facility to make protective glasses and face shields. “Under guidance from medical professionals, we have redesigned and manufactured complex fittings for ventilators and are actively producing laser cut, waterjet cut, and 3D-printed parts for face shields and safety glasses,” said David McMillan, assistant director of the center.
Eastman has donated material to organizations in Tennessee, Virginia and Brazil for the production of face shields. In Europe, the company has donated resins to customers that are making hand sanitizer instead of cosmetics.
This week, Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) received a donation of 450 pounds of double-laminated seven-millimeter film from Eastman in Martinsville, Va.
PHCC recently launched an initiative to produce hundreds of face shields for health care providers in its Fab Lab at the Dalton IDEA Center. The college had several rolls of appropriate plastic in stock to create the base of the shield, but did not have enough clear plastic on hand to create the face coverings. The college reached out to Eastman to see if it had the necessary plastic to create a face shield. Eastman did not have any plastic thick enough for a face shield, and according to the company, it quickly developed a creative solution. Within 72 hours, Eastman’s team figured out how to use the materials they had on hand and began producing a product that would fit the need.
Eastman then presented the college with 1,000 feet of the specially designed plastic. From this one donation, the college estimates it will be able to make over 400 face shields.
“We’re extremely proud to partner with Patrick Henry Community College for this important cause,” said Steve DuVal, Eastman Martinsville operation site director.
College technicians say it will only take a few seconds for its laser cutting machine to turn a plastic sheet into a face shield. The base of the face shield – which the college is producing using 3-D printers – takes about four hours to print.
“We believe this whole event showcases how strong the Martinsville community is – how we can come together to support one another in a time of need,” says PHCC workforce and community development vice president, Rhonda Hodges.