During Governor Mike DeWine’s twice-weekly press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced some good economic development news for Jackson County regarding a company that plans to manufacture N95 masks at an existing facility in Jackson.

Husted recognized Phoenix Quality Manufacturing (PQM) for its planned work to produce N95 masks, which will create 40 plus jobs in Jackson County. The company will convert 23,000 square feet of the Beaver Pike facility, which formerly housed the Stockmeister Mushroom Farm and Ohio Precious Metals at 16064 Beaver Pike, Jackson, into a personal protective equipment (PPE) mask manufacturing operation.

The project has received a $250,000 JobsOhio revitalization grant and a $500,000 PPE grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency. The company has also received support from the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, Appalachian Growth Capital, and private investors. PQM plans to start producing masks in November for local, state and eventually international customers.

PQM, is an Ohio-based partnership founded by a group of manufacturing and supply chain veterans all hailing from the United States and Canada. The group is led by Ohio business owner and Co-Chairman Alan Stockmeister. According to phoenixqualitymanufacturing.com, PQM has “assembled a team of quality management, supply chain and manufacturing experts that have over 100 years’ experience working on manufacturing and supply chains for some of the largest companies in the world, including Fortune 500 companies. The management team is uniquely positioned to quickly and capably source PPE for the North American marketplace.”

The company is initially poised to manufacture non-medical, civilian-grade masks dubbed PQM FreedomAIR. The masks are said to utilize four-layer filtration technology that “blocks the smallest of particles for greater filtration.”

PQM says the following about these masks, which are, according to the company’s website, made in the U.S. with imported materials, “PQM FreedomAIR uses two core layers of electrostatically charged melt-blown, non-woven fabric that are scientifically proven to provide protection from micron-sized pollution particles. A microfiber filtering mask is more effective at filtering clean air from dust, haze, smoke and miniature particles than other sub-standard masks. PQM will use materials that have been independently tested.”

Once production commences, PQM expects to have a manufacturing capacity of around 6.5 million masks per month.

“Mask inventories have evaporated or are being restricted by unfair trade practices and unprecedented global demand,” said Sid Fingerhut, CEO/Co-founder of PQM. “Companies are relying on a handful of large companies to support the masses, but their efforts are just not enough. With local Ohio production, we can be part of the solution to help reduce price gouging currently experienced in the marketplace and expenses associated with importation from foreign countries. With the majority of U.S. medical supplies being sourced overseas in restrictive and manipulative markets, PQM could not stand idly by and is taking the manufacturing into our own hands with product made in the Appalachian region. We intend to make ‘Made in Ohio’ synonymous with PPE and mask manufacturing and have it become a rallying cry to spur economic growth and innovation that allows for independence in the supply chain.”

Fingerhut told The Telegram though the company will start out slowly, he anticipates that by 2022 PQM could be employing close to 100 people. Production is set to kick off Nov. 1 and will look to scale up quickly from its initial machines. PQM is already accepting pre-orders for its fall production runs.

“We haven’t even started production yet and we’re already getting calls to purchase our civilian grade masks,” Fingerhut said. “We have the ability to scale the facility to over 100,000 square feet so we can get more machines, hire more people, and continue to expand to get PPE where it needs to go.”

Originally from Toledo, Fingerhut moved to Scottsdale, AZ as a child, attended the University of Arizona and moved to Chicago around a year-and-a-half ago. When the time came to make a decision with regard to the location for PQM, he said the choice was clear.

“Once I met Alan and Seth [Stockmeister],” he said, “they were my very first choice. Jackson is such a great area for manufacturing work. We felt like that was the perfect relationship to start off. It’s been a wonderful partnership and a great environment to be in, being able to draw in good people for good jobs. We’re only going to grow and we’re moving at light speed to build our factory and clean-room environment.”

Beyond the positives PQM plans to bring to Jackson and the surrounding area, Fingerhut further said the company stands to benefit the nation as a whole.

“We’re excited to not only bring great jobs and opportunities to that area, but to also help all of America out with really great masks,” he told The Telegram. “We’ve had a lot of issues with all of the PPE coming from Asia. I have no idea who will be President coming up, but they’re both looking at bringing manufacturing back and PPE has to be one of the most important things – from healthcare to individual needs – and it needs to be American-made.”

Taylor Stepp, Project Manager for OhioSE Economic Development, took to Facebook shortly after the announcement Tuesday, saying, “[I’m] really excited about the Phoenix Quality Manufacturing facility coming to Jackson. This new facility will eventually manufacture N95 masks and bring 40 plus jobs to Jackson. Congrats to Sam Brady and Jackson County Economic Development on a great win! Thanks to Seth Stockmeister and his team for bringing new jobs to Jackson. JobsOhio (Brodie Lepi) OhioSE, Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (John Hemmings) and Governor Mike DeWine/Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted assisted in the project as well.”

Stepp also extended thanks to Jackson County Commissioners Jon Hensler, Paul Haller and Ed Armstrong, as well as Jackson Mayor Randy Evans, State Representative Jason Stephens and Senator Bob Peterson for their support for economic development endeavors in the region.

Jackson County Economic Development Partnership Executive Director, Sam Brady, issued the following statement to The Telegram regarding Tuesday’s announcement: “We are thrilled that Jackson County is going to be the home of Phoenix Quality Manufacturing’s new production facility. In light of the current global pandemic, it is critical that our nation have access to quality PPE produced using North American quality standards. The Jackson County Economic Development Partnership is proud that we could provide assistance, in partnership with JobsOhio, to Phoenix Quality Manufacturing’s project team and secure new manufacturing jobs for Jackson County.”

The following job positions are currently listed on the PQM website: Forklift Operator, Shift Team Lead and Hourly Production. All positions listed are full-time. Interested candidates can find more information and/or submit an application at phoenixqualitymanufacturing.com. Information for potential distributors/wholesalers/suppliers is likewise available for those interested in partnering with PQM.

To preorder PQM FreedomAIR masks, call 1-855-776-OHIO (6446) to speak to a sales representative.