Local fishing business casts out a lifeline

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It’s a long way from fishing kayaks to medical gear but a resourceful local company has reinvented itself to supply healthcare workers in desperate need of personal protective equipment.

Berley Pro, based in Somerville, used to make parts for kayaks and visors for fish finders but is now producing protective visors full time supplying paramedics, hospital staff and GPs in their fight to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The company’s director Martyn Gittens saw what was happening in places like Italy and Spain and the massive shortages they were experiencing in personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

“I thought well, we already make plastic parts. We could swap over to this pretty easily so we might as well

give it a go and see if anybody needs it.

“And surprise surprise as soon as we started people all around Australia began contacting us trying to get their hands on it.”

So great was the need that at first the company donated the protective visors to customers. As the scale grew and more hospitals contacted them it became a full-time business keeping up with demand.

“The way I see it is we would do it anyway even if we weren't getting paid. If frontline guys like medical staff get sick that's going to make it even longer until this is all over.

In the past few weeks the company has produced more than 10,000 plastic face shields for workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s definitely been rewarding. Everyone is really appreciative of what we are doing. We wanted to help as much as we could and now we are also creating jobs out of this.

“I love all the emails and messages people are sending us. We get hundreds of messages every day from people saying thank you so much; that's the true blue Aussie spirit; we love what you're doing we're here to support you.

“It's been cool and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.”