Trusscore CEO and Sault Ste. Marie native Dave Caputo was in a video conference Tuesday morning when all of his messaging services and social media accounts began to blow up.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his daily COVID-19 address from Rideau Cottage to laud Caputo and his team for repurposing their sustainable building material plant in Palmerston, Ont. in order to build TempWall, a modular temporary wall system that’s being used to divide up spaces in hospitals and healthcare facilities.
“With mounting concerns around COVID-19, Dave asked his team how they could repurpose their building materials factory to make products hospitals needed,” said Trudeau. “A few days later, they had four prototypes drawn up.”
Caputo says Trusscore’s idea for TempWall began during an executive meeting held a few weeks ago in order to plan an internal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We decided to just turn the question around and say, ‘is there anything we can do to help?’ And it turns out that we have the world’s biggest 3D printers called extrusion lines, and we used to make a panel that helped with the African swine flu for hog farmers,” he told SooToday. “We thought what if we put a bunch of them together and make a wall?”
Trusscore then researched antimicrobials in order to make its modular wall system hospital grade for use during the ongoing pandemic.
“Maybe people need a lot more isolation in this day and age, in this pandemic. You wouldn’t want to be sitting there with your kid with a broken arm beside someone who’s coughing,” said Caputo. “We thought maybe there’s a product idea in here that would help in this pandemic.”
Caputo credits Dr. Jay Green, chief of emergency medicine for Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener, for providing Trusscore with feedback after the company donated 10 walls to both of Dr. Green’s hospitals.
“If it wasn’t for them giving us the feedback to say these are valued, we wouldn’t have done this product, so I want to give full credit to Dr. Jay Green for helping co-invent this, if you will,” said Caputo. “We started calling out to other hospitals and we got similar reactions, and then all of a sudden our prime minister...does that call-out, which I’m incredibly humbled about.”
“Our phones, our website, our social networks just exploded with folks looking for this, and now we’re literally filling up transport truck loads as quickly as we can, and shipping them wherever people need them.”
Trusscore is now busy producing TempWall for more than 10 hospitals and healthcare centres in southern Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec. Currently, the company can produce about 400 of the temporary, hospital-grade walls each day, with a crew of anywhere from eight to 10 people working around the clock.
“We’re just building them whether we get orders or not, just so we’re ready to respond - and we’re building them 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Caputo said.
For Caputo - son of Nick and Pina Caputo, a Bawating High School graduate and avid Soo Greyhounds fan - the repurposing of Trusscore in the fight against COVID-19 has been a gratifying experience for both himself and his start-up company.
“I’m so grateful that we can do a small part in helping to contain this. My sense is there would’ve been a growing frustration - where I’m sure there is across a lot of businesses - that we’re going to have to either shut down or close down for a little bit,” he said. “But the idea that you could make a difference here, I think, is very motivating to a lot of people - rather than being stuck at home, you could be making something that’s helping to contain the spread of this, and hopefully, help flatten the curve.”