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LITTLE ROCK – Today I’d like to talk about two doctors and the mask-making company they started in Mountain Home.
Dr. Rob Conner, a veterinarian, and Dr. Kyle McAlister, a radiologist, created The Masketeers early in the COVID-19 pandemic because masks for were hard to find.
They made it their mission to find a supply of adequate face masks to protect themselves, their employees, and Mountain Home. Their solution was to launch a company to make them.
Since The Masketeers went into full production last January, the company has sold over 2 million masks, selling them in all 50 states and worldwide on the six inhabited continents.
Their route to opening is a good guide for entrepreneurs. Their success is encouraging to anyone with similar dreams.
As with many successful companies, the doctors founded theirs to meet an urgent need, which was a face mask that would protect people from COVID-19.
They designed and manufacture a high-filtration mask, which is a respirator mask similar to the N95.
The Masketeers produces 30,000 masks per eight-hour shift, but the small company can ramp up production to three shifts, seven days a week if the demand increases.
The Masketeers buys its nonwoven material from a company in Ohio. The material for ear loops comes from North Carolina, and the plastic-coated wires that fit over the nose are from California.
The production of protective equipment in Mountain Home, Arkansas, is an ideal model for our country. As a nation, we must be able to manufacture our own products and not depend upon foreign suppliers.
The young man who oversees The Masketeers’s team of 10 employees is 23-year-old Hunt Nosari, who grew up in Mountain Home. Hunt returned to his hometown after he earned a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Arkansas.
Although there has been some confusion over the past two years about the importance of masking, there is no question that a tight-fitting respirator-style mask can slow the transmission of COVID-19. The Biden administration announced this week that it will send 400 million N95 masks to pharmacies and community centers to distribute free next week.
This is an important message as the number of actives cases continues to set records in Arkansas. The vaccine and masks remain the best weapons to fight COVID-19. Thanks to The Masketeers and Dr. Rob Conner and Dr. Kyle McAlister for helping to slow the pandemic and for building a template for other entrepreneurs.