While factory and other shutdowns have thrown more than a million Pennsylvanians out of work, a Montgomeryville maker of architectural shutters has boosted hiring to serve its new business: clear-plastic shields for hospital workers, emergency responders and coronavirus patients.
Timberlane has switched most of its 70 full-time workers, from joining wood and aluminum shutters to assembling the plastic shields at its 78,000-square-foot plant. The full face shield lists at $198.50 for 50 on the company’s website.
Founder Rick Skidmore has added a second shift, and hired 250 new workers, mostly part-timers, many of them people furloughed or laid off from other Montgomery County and Lehigh Valley employers. The company is advertising a wage of $15 an hour.
Buyers include Main Line Health, Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health, and the Atlantic and Hackensack hospital systems in New Jersey, among others. At a time when tariffs, coronavirus shutdowns, and wrenching changes in supply patterns have made imports a challenge, Timberlane has been able to source its plastic to manufacturers in Maryland and Missouri, said Alyssa Puketza, the company’s marketing director.
A bigger challenge is finding enough workers to handle demand, she said. “We are shipping all across the U.S.A. We are starting at 7 a.m., and we may add a third shift” if they can find workers.
Timberlane has been approved as an “essential” Pennsylvania manufacturer, a designation that has eluded some Pennsylvania woodworking firms.
Skidmore says his people are making 175,000 shields a week, which he hopes to more than double. In a statement, he added that he doesn’t expect to turn a profit on the shields, but is glad to keep workers employed and to make useful goods: “We are trying to do our part in this crisis and we’re proud to contribute.”
Center City-based Guru Technologies, which makes information-management software to help customers such as Square and Spotify simplify the systems that keep businesses running across long distances, has raised $30 million from Silicon Valley venture capital investor Accel, an early Facebook backer, and a major funder of Philadelphia’s GoPuff and other tech companies that go national.
Guru, cofounded by Rick Nucci and Mitch Stewart, employs about 150, up from 100 a year ago, and is still hiring. The firm raised a previous $25 million from a group led by the Kushner family’s Thrive Capital in late 2018 and $9 million from FirstMark and Michael Dell’s MSD in 2017. MSD backed Nucci’s earlier company Boomi before Dell’s firm bought it in 2010.
Prior investors Thrive, MSD, FirstMark and Emergence Capital joined Accel in the new funding. Ballard Spahr partner Gregory L. Seltzer led the legal team that helped get the deal done.
Accel managers Miles Clements and Ben Fletcher praised Nucci and Stewart in a blog post for "the character of [the Guru] team. We are in uncertain times, and Rick begins each of our conversations with, ‘how are you, and how’s your family?’” before going into “painstaking” business detail. He “then sings karaoke with a new hire in Fishtown until 1 a.m. ... Guru is building the next big thing in collaboration software, and we’re excited to be a part of the journey.”
Sabre Systems Inc. of Warrington says it has landed a $78 million, five-year NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command) Digital Department contract “to provide technology acceleration and integration, information technology, information management and cyber security support services.”
Sabre’s job is to help Navy and Marine Corps pilots install and run automation, analysis and security software. CEO Glen Ives, who reports to founder and chairman Phil Jaurigue, called the contract a sign of the military’s continued confidence. Sabre is also adding workers to its staff of 425.