SA company shifting gears from leather goods to face masks

SAN ANTONIO – Hit by a downturn in business, a local leather goods manufacturer is switching gears to produce face masks for the public as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

“We had started to send employees home. I would say 80% of our work staff,” said Sharon Durham, president of Jon Hart Design. Yet soon, Durham said she’ll be able to bring back some for now, and even more when production ramps up. Durham had reached out to Mike Gilliam, president and CEO of the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind. Gilliam said he already had partnered with Southwest Research, Dixie Flag, the San Antonio Manufacturers Association in “an effort to produce masks.”

Jon Hart Design is now the latest to join in that effort. “I had actually reached out to Lighthouse because I knew they were very well connected within the community and we wanted to help,” Durham said. Gilliam said the visually-impaired workers at Lighthouse already were busy fulfilling its military contracts. “We are the largest manufacturer of military uniforms in the state of Texas,” Gilliam said. He said now, thanks to Durham’s company, “We can produce up to 10,000 masks a week once we get everything up and running.” Durham said her sister, an ICU registered nurse, helped in designing several types of face masks. Gilliam said the overall benefit will be helping “bring the economy back as fast as we can during this time.”