Coronavirus News: Famed Brooklyn suit maker shifts focus to PPE during COVID-19 pandemic

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Thursday, April 16, 2020
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Lauren Glassberg has more on the Brooklyn suit maker making reusable masks for frontline healthcare workers.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A famed Brooklyn suit maker is shifting gears during the coronavirus pandemic, making vital reusable masks for frontline healthcare workers.

"Our day in and day out business is making suits for businessmen, tuxedos for grooms," Tod Greenfield said.

That includes suits for a few presidents, but these days, Martin Greenfield Clothiers in East Williamsburg is focused on PPE.

"100% cotton suiting, so they have a suity sort of a look to them," Tod Greenfield said. "But they're washable and should be worn over and over again."

He is giving out hundreds of them to essential workers, and the company is also selling them online -- buy six, donate six. And all this sewing is keeping the factory running and a paycheck coming to several longtime employees who can't come in to work.

"A lot of them are elderly, and many have sewing machines at home, Tod Greenfield said. "So today, we're preparing kits to send to the houses so the older ones can work from home make the masks at home."

Working from home is actually against union rules, but Workers United is willing to bend the rules under the circumstances.

"Many companies have just shut down because they didn't know what to do, but Tod is one of the more aggressive employers and forward thinkers," Workers United Secretary Treasurer Edgar Romney said.

And in the coming days, more workers will be added to sew medical gowns based on a prototype design by Crye Precision at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

"We'll be sewing the gowns for them just like my workers are sewing the masks for me," Tod Greenfield said.

That can-do approach that began with Tod's father, Martin Greenfield, who is now 91 years old and a Holocaust survivor who was liberated by the US Army.

"He's always felt a huge debt of gratitude," Tod Greenfield said. "Always taught us to do everything we could to give back and help."

The masks have a copper wire to shape by the nose, and there is a pocket for filtration to be added. It is a worthwhile investment that also does good.

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