COVID-19 changed many of our plans in 2020, including Lanaco - makers of high-performance products that harness the superb characteristics of natural wool.
In January 2020, Lanaco were manufacturing filter elements for other people's devices, such as 3M in Australia, who were making industrial respirators.
A pivot due to COVID-19 saw Lanaco shift efforts to help to reduce community transmission of the virus in New Zealand.
Lanaco Founder and Sales & Marketing Director Nick Davenport explained, “Whilst pandemic was a word that was always in the background of the business plan and the business model, basic air quality was the target market which eventuated after the first two years of research into how to build wool into an air filtered media which could help people.”
With an expert science and engineering team and a manufacturing line to make filter media, Lanaco were in a great position to assist New Zealand with containing the virus.
“We had to pretty much drop everything else and just focus on what is the country going to need in terms of masks in New Zealand. Initially we thought we might be able to export a bit of stuff to China, but it soon moved out of China and we started to become focused on New Zealand,” Nick said.
Team of 5 million
Realising it would take several months to get set up in manufacturing entire masks, Lanaco decided to focus their efforts on manufacturing the filters, calling on other individuals and businesses to make the filters.
Nick said, “You use the team of five million and say, hey guys, there's lots of people here sitting on their bums doing nothing with their sewing machine stopped. Why don't we get people to make reusable washable cloth masks and we'll give you the filter, you put the filter in it, you guys do the work.”
People left without a job due to the pandemic, were able to utilise their skills by creating masks and businesses with those skills could redeploy. It also prevented many disposable face masks from being thrown away to landfill.
Magic of wool
Wool is not just a natural, sustainable, renewable resource though, it’s fantastic at air filtration if the science is done right on it. Lanaco spent a lot of time on this - a heavily science driven project over the last eight years.
“The problem wasn't trying to solve filtering the air, there's plenty of products that filter the air if you get the right stuff, it's all made out of plastic or glass or nano-silver or horrible stuff like that, which you wouldn't want to trust. This is made out of wool and you can trust it,” Nick said.
Kiwis coming together to produce top-quality masks and filters helped reduce the chance of community transmission and gave Kiwis the confidence to continue with their daily lives.
From farm to face, this is a model New Zealand can be proud of and can share with the rest of the world, as the fight against COVID-19 continues.
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