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One of the largest COVID-19 gown manufacturers in the country is in Paso Robles

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Posted at 7:40 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 21:03:46-05

As the Central Coast works to rebound from the impacts of the pandemic, businesses have pivoted and adjusted to survive.

We have an update to a story we brought you nearly one year ago about Daniel's Wood Land in Paso Robles creating personal protective equipment for first responders.

Back in March 2020, the company started producing several thousand disposable COVID-19 gowns a day but now they're up to about 250,000 each day.

The workforce has also grown significantly since then.

DWL Enterprises, Chief Marketing Officer, Andy Dauterman says creating personal protective equipment was meant to be a temporary endeavor.

"The hope was just to do it for a couple of weeks to survive and get back to making themed products that we do for the amusement industry," Dauterman explained.

Now a year later, they've started a new corporation with three locations and 1,700 employees.

"That makes them by far the largest employer in the city," said Tom Frutchy, Paso Robles City Manager. "The next largest, I believe, is the school district with about 760, 780 employees."

The company is also one of the largest isolation gown manufacturers in the country, shipping out 1,300,000 gowns a week.

"We had no idea that this is what we would be doing," Dauterman said.

Since last March, they've produced about 29,000,000 gowns with the bulk of that for the federal government.

"They're currently being distributed to all the DOD] services across the globe as well as replenishing the stockpile for the nation's use," Dauterman explained.

The company is hoping for a renewal from the federal government to do an additional 66,000,000 gowns by the end of Summer.

They're now looking to hire 300 to 400 more employees. Positions range from gown techs to shift managers.

Some employees are already working up the ranks.

"Through diligence and hard work," said Troy Brooks, DWL Enterprises, Shipping and Receiving Manager.

One employee was a dancer instructor until COVID hit. That's when he found this position to pay his bills and survive.

"It's funny because when people ask me, 'What are you doing?' and I say, 'I'm saving the world because we're here fighting against COVID.' So for me this is not just a job," explained Rogerio Storani, DWL Enterprises Shift Manager.

The gowns are cut from plastic, unfolded and refolded, the seams are welded then it's folded, bagged, boxed and put on a truck.

"The entire process when a gown, when the raw product is laid down to a finished gown is really just a matter of minutes," Dauterman said.

Looking ahead, the company is looking at using environmentally friendly products and creating masks.

"We didn't think it would get this big but it is and we're happy to answer the call," Dauterman said.

The company has two other facilities in Paso Robles to help meet production goals but on Commerce Way is where the bulk of everything happens.

Many of the protective gowns have also gone to local fire departments and hospitals.

The company says the facility is sanitized six times a day. Everyone wears a mask and there is hand sanitizer at every station.