‘Step Up’ to Fight COVID-19

Amid the global coronavirus pandemic and challenge of flattening the curve, alumni of St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) are living up to our vision of being graduates who change the world through lives of faith, character, and service.

One dedicated alumnus, Flavio Volpe ’94, president of Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, is leading the way using his organization and resources to help in the fight against COVID-19 while rallying others to do the same.

“Over the last few days we’ve announced deals in place for the largest build-orders of supplies in Canadian history,” says Volpe, who’s company represents producers and manufacturers of parts, equipment, tools, and other supplies for the global automotive industry.

Flavio Volpe at Mitchell Plastics one of the companies producing medical supplies to fight COVID-19.

Flavio Volpe ’94 (right), president of Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, is calling on the auto industry to 'Step Up' and help in the fight against COVID-19 by producing essential medical supplies such as ventilators, masks, gowns, and other PPE.
Photo courtesy of: Flavio Volpe

Last month, Volpe put out a call asking manufacturers to #StepUp by way of mass-producing medical supplies such as ventilators, masks, gowns, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) essential to frontline workers.

Flavio Volpe picking up a donation from one of the companies producing medical supplies to fight COVID-19.

Flavio Volpe picking up a donation of made-in-Canada face shields and masks destined for Eatonville Care Centre.

“Almost immediately 16 companies said, ‘Give us the specs and we'll give you an answer on if we can produce them and how quickly we can change tooling to make these components,’” he says. “Since then, 165 firms have volunteered in the effort.”

“Since the beginning of March, export controls have been put in place on medical devices in a lot of countries,” says Volpe. “The medical technology sector in Canada is healthy, but manufacturing is limited and if we need devices in the quantities required, the only way to get there was to use the scale and skills of the automotive supply sector.”

On April 6, the Ontario government announced that the province could run out of PPE by the end of the week, signalling the ramp-up and call out for locally produced equipment.

“The automotive sector is the only one able to provide the scale needed to meet the current Canadian demand,” says Volpe. “Our goal is to ensure that everyone who needs PPE has them until we get this virus under control.”

Today, Volpe says he speaks to Premier Doug Ford daily. Production of the life-saving equipment began on April 6.

“The level of support and appreciation we’ve received is something I didn't expect and I’m not sure we feel is warranted,” he says. “Everyone is pitching in, we just have the biggest tools. Companies that are making sanitizer from whisky, or using 3D printers to make prototypes for face shields, or the taxi drivers who have volunteered to do all our pickups and drop-offs, are all just as important.”