Roanoke’s Orvis production center turns from embroidery to mask making

In a facility designed to make personalized products, Roanoke’s Orvis employees are now making personal face masks.

Mike Rigney, the vice president of operations for Orvis in Roanoke, said the effects of the pandemic have forced Orvis to close stores across the country. In Roanoke, it’s also required furloughs and the layoffs of 30 to 40 percent of its workforce, Rigney said.

But with the 100 or so employees still working in their operations center, Rigney said they are keeping busy contributing to the community.

For the last two weeks, staff who normally hem pants and do embroidery work for personalized items are making face masks. They’re using the sewing machines to make medical-style masks as well as cloth masks. So far, Rigney said they’ve donated around 900 of them to the Roanoke Rescue Mission.

Their own employees are using masks, too, while maintaining a distance between each other in the 300,000-square-foot center, Rigney said. But they are also working on a partnership to distribute masks to the staff with Feeding America Southwest Virginia.

Rigney said the staff making the masks has been excited about the opportunity.

“It was very energizing for the associates that are working here. It is very consistent with our values; we have an ongoing relationship with the Rescue Mission so seeing us take it to another level with another opportunity,” he said. “I think the group felt pretty motivated, pretty excited about it.”

Rigney said so far, they’re making 300 to 400 masks a day. Eventually, he said, they’d like to create around 600 per day.

By Leanna Scachetti | Copyright 2020 WDBJ7

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