An opinion editorial by MATRIC Chairman & CEO Steve Hedrick

The past few weeks and months have put life into perspective – for everyone, regardless of geography, age, race or income. We’ve been forced to identify the difference between wants and needs for ourselves and others around us. Real needs. Such as life-saving tools and resources for front-line workers to help combat this virus. From ventilators, to surgical gowns, to N95 equivalent masks, to even hand sanitizer. There was and continues to be a need and demand for these items.

Being a critical part of producing every day essentials for people isn’t new to the chemical industry. Touching 96% of all manufactured goods, the chemical industry was deemed “essential critical infrastructure” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Companies and leaders are stepping up to be a part of the solution, donating money and supplies. Even more impressive are the companies finding ways to think and operate differently, to be a part of the solution in ways they never thought they would have to. Using critical thinking skills in a different manner, they’ve developed new ways to continue operations, be it remotely or otherwise in some cases, to get the job done in the face of adversity. This demand – the need – to produce goods for a greater cause has induced wonderful innovation.  It’s innovation at its finest.

Innovation: thinking in new and different ways. Developing new processes. Identifying new products or services. Acting differently based on new inputs. Adapting a supply chain. Finding a way to be a part of the solution.

The innovation occurring in the science, technology and manufacturing industries is for the good of all, and it’s inspiring to experience. It is occurring at a pace that in recent years has been stymied by lack of resource, possibly the lack of a true rallying need, or by a thought process that was not driven to move with decisive speed and effect. The chemical and discreet manufacturing sectors, working in unison for a common purpose, are delivering needed goods that they do not normally make, and they’re doing so at a staggering pace.

Companies like Dow are manufacturing much needed hand sanitizer for emergency responders in a safe an environmentally sound manner by repurposing reaction trains that were never intended to manufacture this product. Companies like Eagle Manufacturing, part of the Justrite Safety Group, are working day and night to help deliver much needed personal protective equipment in the form of masks to our National Guard. This is something they’ve never made before! And I’ve seen with my own eyes parts for face shields and masks being produced on 3D printers, something that would not have even been possible just a few short years ago.

There are millions of other people, and thousands of other companies who are making change happen to help us win against this unprecedented global crisis. And I am proud of the people who work at MATRIC, everyone from our most senior leaders to our newest hire. They refuse to stop asking the question, “How can we help?”

Innovation matters to and for us all. Innovation in all its forms allows critical-thinkers to make change, to deliver on need for mankind and to help us win. And let there be no doubt, our industry, our society, will do what we must do. We will win.


This opinion article originally appeared in the April 17, 2020, issue of the Charleston Gazette-Mail.