Second medical swab factory under construction in Pittsfield

Accelerated timeline targets January 1st to start production
Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 5:41 PM EDT
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PITTSFIELD, Maine (WABI) -"For 130 years, these buildings have provided for the families of the Pittsfield area." John Cartwright of Puritan Medical Products said as he stood in front of a busy construction area on SAS drive in Pittsfield. “From the woolen industry through the shoe industry, and now on to the health care industry.”

Puritan Medical Products opened a manufacturing plant at 129 N Main Street in Pittsfield earlier this year which doubled the company’s output of swabs it had been making at its Guilford plant. The Main Street location is expected to ramp up from 40 to 90 million per month in November.

Now they’ve begun construction on another factory in town, this time in the former San Antonio Shoe (SAS) factory. The project is funded by a $51.2 million dollar CARES Act grant.

“It’s really exciting for the townspeople to see this building in use again." said Pittsfield Mayor Heather Donahue. "It’s laid dormant for quite a while, and a lot of people have strong emotional ties to it. They worked in the buildings, their parents might have worked here, and it’s been part of the community for a really long time. So bringing manufacturing back into Pittsfield is a huge step for the town.”

Lisa Armstrong and Cheryl Remmert, daughters of Terry Armstrong, one of the founders of San Antonio Shoe, donated the land and buildings (by way of MTC Holdings Inc) to the Pittsfield Development Corporation and subsequently to Puritan. 18 acres out of the 29 will be retained by the Pittsfield Development Corporation for future development possibilities.

The facility will make use of three separate buildings that will be converted into clean rooms for the manufacture of swabs. The adjacent three story brick building will be demolished.

“This would not have been possible without the generosity of the Armstrong family, San Antonio Shoe, and the support of the Pittsfield Development Corporation to facilitate this transaction.” said Peter Vigue, Cianbro Corp Chairman.

The new facility will produce 50 million swabs a month and create around 200 jobs.

Senator Susan Collins was there to celebrate the project, citing a need to end reliance on Chinese medical products.

“Having recently had my own COVID test, I’ve become very familiar with these swabs, and they are absolutely imperative to our ability to reopen our schools and our economy.”

Pittsfield based construction company Cianbro is scheduled to finish the project in time for manufacturing to begin in early January.

“We will continue to work hard to supply the swabs for America and around the world." said Timothy Templet of Puritan. "Hopefully, if we go again for number four... I’m not quite sure where it will be, but perhaps it will be in Pittsfield.”

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