(SciTech Alumni and Red Fox Product Design Manager Anna Peshock. Photo courtesy of the Technological Leadership Institute.)

Last summer we shared a feature on Red Fox Innovations, an industrial sewing contractor that manufactures products for the medical device industry. One of the interns we spoke with, Anna Peshock, has since graduated from college and currently works for Red Fox full-time.

As Red Fox’s Product Design Manager, all inquiries for prototype production go through her. So, when a team from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Biomedical Engineering reached out to see if Red Fox could assist in the mass fabrication of 350,000 medical gowns, Peshock was there when they said ‘yes.’

A recent article in the Star Tribune covered the remarkable process that went into designing, testing and fabricating the “A Gown for U” gowns in the span of two weeks; helping hospitals fill the growing need of personal protective equipment (PPE) essential during the Coronavirus pandemic. Peshock, who oversaw the communication and handoff between the U of M team and Red Fox, spared time from her busy production schedule to tell us more about her company’s role in the fight against COVID-19.

“Since that article, we’ve received a lot of requests for other gown projects, not just in the state but across the country,” Peshock explained. The need for other PPE, such as masks and gloves have come in as well, but thus far the gowns have been the most successful and the most efficient for Red Fox to produce.

Communication and collaboration within the fabrication community continues to be prolific across the industry and has been helpful in addressing the recent spike in production needs. Gerber Technology, the company that makes the industrial cutting machines that Red Fox relies on to fabricate their work, promotes a vast library of free patterns that anyone doing fabrication can access and share. Peshock has also personally reached out to a friend of hers in New York to collaborate on production and design since the demand for gown fabrication has grown, and had the opportunity to connect with her apparel professors from the U while working on the A Gown for U project.

“Everyone’s trying to support one another right now,” Peshock said, “At the end of the day, it’s not about the profits or your competitors, it’s about people.”

A supportive, safe environment
Throughout this endeavor, Red Fox has proved the extent to which they support not only the needs of the medical community, but their workers as well. Since graduation, Peshock has been working remotely in Louisville, Colorado. With her undifferentiated connective tissue disease and asthma, Peshock is particularly vulnerable during this pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped her or her team from supporting one another to meet their production demand. Red Fox even drove two industrial sewing machines from Minnesota to Colorado so she could work comfortably from home.

“Quarantine agrees with me,” Peshock said, but for those still adjusting to it, she shared these tips:

  • Establish a routine
    • Working from home means “you have more freedom and a unique opportunity to learn how you work best.”
  • Make clear distinctions between work spaces and personal spaces
    • “The bedroom is a sacred place.”
  • Communicate your “virtual availability”
    • let your team know when you’re free to collaborate and when you need to focus on a task at hand

What’s next?
Peshock is optimistic about what this experience will mean for Red Fox and how her company plans to expand. On top of all that they’ve helped accomplish in the fight against COVID-19, the coverage and increased production has allowed this small fabricator to really test the waters and explore their capabilities.

As Peshock and her team start to branch into developing their own line of products, much lies in store for Red Fox Innovations and the good they plan to do.

Get involved
Looking to build your small business workforce? At least 25 internship wage matches are still available to small employers on a first come, first hire basis. Get started today at SciTechMN.org.

Are you a returning SciTech student? Send your current transcript to SciTechMN@mhta.org to reactivate your account. Summer internships are available now.