This story – and all stories on our Facebook and websites connected with coronavirus – is free to read as part of the News’ commitment to community health and safety.
Australia’s only mask manufacturing company, Med-Con, near Shepparton, plans to hire 40 new staff from the region, as the Federal Government ramps up its response to the coronavirus.
On Monday, the government deployed local Australian Defence Force personnel to Med-Con in Lemnos to help boost production of masks under emergency provisions.
Med-Con chief executive Steven Csiszar said the soldiers had been “sensational” in helping to repair and maintain the machines but reiterated the company’s primary goal was to hire more local staff.
“People who think we’re not hiring local staff need to get their facts straight,” he said.
“We’re looking to hire 40 people from Greater Shepparton by the end of the year for positions including internal customer service, project manager roles, people responsible for sourcing raw materials, office personnel — with the rest on the floor 24-seven.
“We have two goals — to create local jobs and provide security for the people of Australia.”
Med-Con had 13 employees last year — the hiring blitz representing a huge increase.
Mr Csiszar said the government had requested 30 million surgical masks, an order Med-Con was on track to complete or exceed by November 2020.
“Previously we were producing pellets containing 200 to 300 masks,” he said.
“Now we’re making many containers’ worth, each with two to three million masks.”
There are two mask-making machines producing 90 000 masks a day, and Mr Csiszar said a third would be operational by April.
“We also plan to add three more machines, doubling our production capacity,” he said.
“Nowhere else in the world has these machines and people overseas get excited seeing them.
“We’ve had many inquiries from overseas — lots of millionaires from China and India who want our masks.
“Although it’s sad to be profiteering in times like these, people want to rely on us for future pandemics.”
Shepparton engineer Joe Carmody invented the unique mask machines on March 18, 1983, and Med-Con now owns the intellectual property rights for the design, Mr Csiszar said.
Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said he was “incredibly proud” to have Med-Con helping limit the spread of coronavirus.
“We’ve had the company in Shepparton for the last 30 years, and in these times it’s great to have a Shepparton company like them providing such a critical service,” he said.
“It’s great the Army have been able to help with supply, and they’ve been working around the clock helping Med-Con with logistics, engineering and more.
“Everyday Australians will be the winners.”
Army officer Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Crowley, one of the soldiers deployed by the government, said the Australia Defence Force would only be at Med-Con until the company recruited more staff.
“We have three aims, to help with increasing the production of surgical masks, to maintain and repair machines and to do technical drawings,” he said.
“It’s always a pleasure to help out in times like these, whether it’s bushfires, floods or the coronavirus.
“We love to provide support where we can and to help increase production at Med-Con.”