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Edmonton company helps to supply PPE to the world through COVID-19

PRI·MED and Edmonton’s connection to COVID-19 PPE supply
Edmonton-based PRI·MED oversees three personal protective equipment manufacturing facilities in China, with another on the way in Laos. Vinesh Pratap has more on how the company is playing a major role during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an office building in south Edmonton, the spread of COVID-19 around the world is being monitored closely.

“Through COVID, we have ramped up our production to unprecedented levels,” David Welsh, president and CEO of PRI·MED Medical Products, said.

Welsh said the company, which started in Edmonton 25 years ago, initially sourced personal protective equipment (PPE), but years ago transitioned to design and manufacturing.

“We’re the leading provider of PPE in Canada.”

But the company’s reach is now well beyond Canada with markets that include the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa.

“The most commonly-used face mask across the U.S. is a PRI·MED product,” Welsh said.

PRI·MED personal protective equipment — PPE — being used during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PRI·MED personal protective equipment — PPE — being used during the COVID-19 pandemic. Supplied

In addition to face masks the company also makes medical gowns, examination gloves, medical shoe covers and other related products.

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In its silver year of operations the company owns and operates three manufacturing facilities in China; a fourth is under construction in Laos.

“We were born and raised here. We love the city,” Welsh said.

PRI·MED employees producing personal protective equipment — PPE — being used during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PRI·MED employees producing personal protective equipment — PPE — being used during the COVID-19 pandemic. Supplied

In Edmonton, head office oversees administration, international sales and marketing as well as research and development.

“Lots of science graduates from the University of Alberta,” Welsh said of the locally-based workforce.

“There’s quite a cluster of talent and knowledge.

“Having the head office of a multi-national enterprise is incredibly valuable.”

For those tasked with economic development, work is underway to capitalize on the business behind PPE and health in general.

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“One of the strategic advantages that we have is actually our northern location,”  Lynette Tremblay, the vice president of strategy and innovation at Edmonton Global, said.

“We are incredibly well positioned to be able to move products from Asia to North America and back again.”

PRI·MED employees producing personal protective equipment — PPE — being used during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PRI·MED employees producing personal protective equipment — PPE — being used during the COVID-19 pandemic. Supplied

The idea is to cluster similar businesses — such as pharmaceutical manufacturing — to help grow the city’s economy.

But Tremblay adds work has to be done to make “sure that we pave the way from a regulatory standpoint and making sure there are no barriers in place because companies are looking to diversify their suppliers and their bases.”

Meantime, at the PRI·MED office most of the 55 staff members are currently working from home.

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Still, it’s busy as the privately-run company works to keep up with demand and grow to serve new markets.

“Serving industry, serving retail market, right down to the consumer,” Welsh said.