We spoke to the founders of Pump Peelz, about the COVID-19 pandemic and important work they’re doing to help.
Hi Scott, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. The COVID-19 pandemic has left us all in fear, especially for those who are elderly or have pre-existing conditions. Knowing that we, or someone we love, fits this demographic adds an extra layer to this difficult time. It is more important than ever to come together and help each other through these uncertain times.
I know you and your wife Emily started Pump Peelz in 2011 with the goal of creating adhesives to help empower people living with diabetes to express themselves and to feel confident in their ability to manage their disease. I know the diabetes community thanks you, and I now wear my Dexcom loud and proud!
How long has your wife Emily been living with type 1 diabetes?
She just celebrated her 10th diaversary in January!
What prompted you to start on this venture of creating adhesives for our community?
Emily was diagnosed while we were both in college. We were taking a few graphic design courses and noticed that at that time there were no graphics, skins, or adhesives for insulin pumps or CGM’s. We took it on as a class project really… and slowly built the business at night for the first few years before taking on Peelz full time and purchasing our own equipment at a specialized facility.
When you heard the virus was picking up speed, what were your first thoughts? Fears? How did you prepare for staying at home?
Emily read to our son, Oliver’s, preschool class for their “Reading Month’ on March 12 and almost immediately after class, the virus started making headlines in our area. We actually had discussed possibly keeping him home for a little while and talking to the teachers to keep us healthy at home. But later that day, his school became canceled indefinitely anyway. I think we have the same fears and concerns as everyone… Our initial fear was for Emily being immunocompromised but we decided to self-quarantine for the past month to keep her and our family safe. We have groceries delivered, we have only one person at the office at a time, and are really keeping busy at home with our 3 year old.
Being that Emily falls under high risk, what extra precautions have you taken?
She really hasn’t gone anywhere since March 12. We take drives and will go for walks in the park and our neighborhood. We mostly have groceries delivered or I will go by myself with my facemask and gloves… I also keep sanitizer in the car. Our office is stocked with Lysol and cleaning supplies to keep all surfaces clean.
Being that you are a small business, how has COVID-19 affected your business so far?
We’ve tried to find different uses for our machinery to try and help a local medical facility. It has given us an opportunity to be more creative and experiment for the better good. Our main business struggle at the moment is simply keeping up while maintaining social distancing and keep our priority on everyone staying healthy. We’re being open and upfront on our website to let people know that during this time, it’s taking us a little longer to produce products.
How did your local hospital find you? Did they know that you would have the equipment necessary to create intubation boxes?
I knew right away that our facility has capabilities beyond what we normally manufacture. I started early on reaching out to our friends in the medical field to let them know that we have the capability of making masks, cutting materials for face shields, or anything else that might come up. It just so happened that our local hospital system heard this and asked us to make an intubation box for their ICU which they currently have in place.
I am sure you have been extremely stressed about the pandemic, what were your initial thoughts about taking on this task?
I try not to stress too much about things I can’t control. This was one thing that was asked of us that I knew we had the capability to produce and something that we could control to help.
It is so amazing that you quickly learned how to create such a necessary and urgently needed product. How exactly were you able to design and produce it?
We launched our Patch+ product late last year which was the most challenging product for us to produce. We had to purchase new equipment, have software designed, and create processes to rapidly prototype and get products out quickly and efficiently. Because we just made it through this project I felt that I understood our machinery enough to know that this task was possible. I quickly found a website called intubationbox.com that had the assembly instructions… I simply modified their steps so that our laser cutter could easily cut out the pieces like a puzzle. Once I figured it out, I saved those files because I thought someone else could also use them.
It looks like you have been sharing this information on social media and hoping that others follow suit and do their part. Where can people find information on how to create intubation boxes?
Go to intubationbox.com and there is a material list sheet of things you can pick up at Home Depot or Lowe’s. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send our vector files to anyone that wants them. They can also follow the instructions and use normal hand tools to produce these. I also recommend talking to your local print shop or sign show to see if they could use our files to cut the acrylic sheets.
I must say seeing your post about how you are helping out during this time of need was such a ray of sunshine on what seems to be the longest gloomiest day in a long time. How does it feel knowing that you are helping save lives?
That was really nice of you to say that. We can all pitch in just a little to do something bigger than ourselves. That can be simply staying at home to ‘slow the spread’ or it can be offering your sewing services to make masks, offering a 3D printer at a school to make face shields, or building a box. We all have little talents or things that we can do to help each other… this just happened to be ours.
Going forward we are taking the remaining materials from our boxes to make Mask Relief Straps to take the pressure off of the ears of nurses and doctors who are wearing them all day long. You can look up photos on Google to see what I’m talking about!
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I know personally, I thank you guys every time I can get more life out of my Dexcom thanks to your adhesives, but now you are truly heroes!