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IFAI Members Join Forces to Supply Emergency Hospital Field Cots

By weldadmin | May 14, 2020

Miller Weldmaster,  Snyder Manufacturing & Seaman Corporation, along with several other key contributors, have joined a long list of American-made manufacturers that are helping with the fight against the deadly Covid-19 virus.

The Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) is a not-for-profit trade association comprised of member companies representing the international specialty fabrics marketplace. “IFAI enables businesses an opportunity to continually learn about our industry” said Jeff Sponseller, VP of Marketing & Sales at Miller Weldmaster. “It provides us with great opportunities to work with our customers and to build relationships with other vendors in our amazing industry”.  He added, “I have been so impressed with how IFAI has brought our membership together during this difficult time to provide resources for all of us to use”.

The NE Ohio IFAI member collaborative effort was led by PioneerIWS, a family-owned business in Dalton, Ohio that designs and fabricated agricultural equipment, industrial workflow solutions and custom steel fabrication.

The Dalton, OH company retooled their manufacturing facility to mass produce hospital cots. “Our goal is to be able to produce 1,000 beds a day if needed.” said John Wengerd, who led the PIONEER team in setting up the new, incredibly lean assembly line that was able to produce over 100 beds per hour.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is in high demand, but not something PIONEER, as primarily a steel fabricator, was equipped to produce. The increasing demand for hospital beds, specifically hospital field cots, seemed to be a place they could contribute. PIONEER moved quickly and began collaborating with a number of other manufacturers in northeastern Ohio.

“We approached other local businesses for assistance with the project – specifically those with expertise in other areas, like fabrics,” said Eddie Wengerd, General Manager of PIONEER. The response was overwhelming with leaders of other businesses going above and beyond with urgency. “Those connections, and our talented team of committed employees, formed a spirited collaboration to make it happen – and happen very quickly,” Wengerd added.











Miller Weldmaster played a big part in the project from day one, producing prototypes and connecting PIONEER with several industry insiders. “As an expert in industrial fabrics welding systems, I knew we could jump start this project quickly with our in-house abilities”, said Brent Nussbaum, President of Miller Weldmaster. “Developing the prototype for the mattress was all in a day’s work for us, we regularly develop custom solutions across many different industries,” Nussbaum added.

James Miller, of Snyder Manufacturing, joined the project eagerly. “We were able to provide Pioneer a low-cost solution.” “I felt helpless that we are not able to fight this virus head on like the hero’s in the medical professional community.” “With the economic slowdown, we had the ability to quickly manufacture material for the mattresses.” Miller continued by adding, “Being inundated with constant numbers of deaths, positive tests, economic uncertainty, you can’t help feeling concern and despair.  As we produced the material, it gave our entire team a lift and sense of purpose knowing what it was being used for.”

In just two weeks PIONEER went from conversation, to concept, to delivering the first Pioneer field hospital cots to Long Island, New York on April 3rd. Another 1,000 shipped to the Greater Columbus Convention Center, in Columbus Ohio on April 8th.

The cot folds for easy shipping, has an adjustable head and shoulder area and comes with a 1/4” easy-clean, removable vinyl cushion. The simple, lightweight design is rated for 400 lb. capacity and high volumes can be produced in very short periods of time.

Although this is not the first time that they have a come to a community’s aid, this is the first time they altered their manufacturing and completely retooled their facility to mass produce cots. “Our goal is to be able to produce 1,000 beds a day if needed.” said John Wengerd, who led the PIONEER team in setting up the new 14-person assembly line. “Being agile enough to not only adapt but streamline the process of a new product that was nothing more than a thought just over two weeks ago.”

As one  of the leading manufacturers of horse-drawn farming equipment in North America since 1978, PIONEER often lends the expertise they’ve gained serving Amish farmers to many non-profit organizations like Tiller’s International, Mana for Many, Green Field Farms and Horse Progress Days.

The coronavirus hasn’t hit quite as hard in the sparsely populated areas of Ohio’s Amish community, but with Covid-19 deaths in nearby Stark County, many Amish leaders are working with State and local officials to further educate the Amish community of state orders like Shelter-in-Place. Leaders have asked that church, weddings, and gatherings of any kind be postponed adhering to state mandates. We are not unique in trying to help fight against COVID-19. Other local, primarily Amish companies have organized to produce masks, face shields and other PPE’s.

“There are so many things about this project that I am grateful for; the cause we are supporting, the people and companies that get to share in this success, and a local community coming together to fill a need” said Miller of Snyder Manufacturing. “It’s a complete win for this entire coalition. We are partnering together to keep our people working while supporting the front-line hero’s and the victims.”

“We have faced many things in our 45+ year history, but nothing quite like the global pandemic we are faced with today. We are confident in the resilience of our country, and that we will get through this difficult period together” said Nussbaum. “We’ll get through this too, and we’re glad to be a part of the solution.”

For more information about this project and to learn more about all the contributing companies visit