At the beginning of March, Bryan Kilbey spoke with a business partner in France about the novel coronavirus that was spreading across Europe, causing widespread social lockdowns, straining healthcare systems, and fomenting economic instability.
Kilbey, an ISyE alumnus (IE 1982), quickly realized that Covid-19 would have a similar impact in the U.S. and began contemplating how his company, EZY Wrap, could be part of the solution. PPE — specifically surgical and N95 face masks — were already in high demand by medical and essential workers. It was a natural shift for EZY Wrap, a medical device manufacturer, to begin making face masks.
Two days after Kilbey heard from his colleague, the company had a workable prototype for a new kind of mask: fully adjustable for people of any size, thanks to the Velcro ear straps; reusable (when handwashed and air-dried); and remarkably breathable. A week after that propulsive conversation, the company had filed patent applications in the U.S. and the European Union and had begun round-the-clock manufacturing.
An additional quality of the EZY Wrap products sets them apart: They are treated inside and out with an antimicrobial agent that is 99.99% effective.
“Covid-19 comes from a novel coronavirus, but it has ‘brothers and sisters’ in other coronaviruses,” Kilbey noted. “SARS, MERS, H1N1 — they come from the same gene pool as Covid-19, and the antimicrobial treatment on our mask has been shown to kill them all. We are confident that it will kill Covid-19 as well.”
Sales of EZY Wrap’s antimicrobial mask number in the millions. The company has also donated thousands of them to groups in Florida, where it is headquartered, ranging from first responders to private businesses seeking to protect their employees. And Kilbey was able to provide help in yet another way, hiring people who had been laid off because of the pandemic to staff the ramped-up production lines.
EZY Wrap has developed a second-generation product — a multilayer mask with a reusable N95 filter — and is pursuing FDA Class 2 registration for it.
H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering