Bamberg company making ventilator parts during COVID-19 pandemic


BAMBERG, S.C. (WJBF) — A Bamberg County manufacturer is keeping up with demand during the COVID-19 outbreak. “We all proud to say everything we do here is made in the United States of America,” Sales Manager Steve Cornforth told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk.

Founded in 1907, no doubt, Pheonix Specialty Manufacturing has seen some of the country’s toughest times including now a pandemic. The company is becoming an unlikely hero for those facing the uncertainty of the coronavirus. “Some were existing customers, somewhere new customers, but we knew that we wanted to help with the pandemic at that time the orders were coming in really, really quickly,” Cornforth recalled.

While some faced closures, one of Bamberg’s largest employers was able to keep their nearly 130 workers on board by making parts for ventilators. “We’ve probably made two and a half million parts,” he shared.

The transition wasn’t a tough one as the company produces washers and small metal-stamped parts for different types of companies including aviation.”The transition for us was really not that difficult. We are very much self-contained. We make our own tooling. We have a large inventory of raw material, the sales manager said.”

With most businesses, COVID-19 was a concern of management. They wanted to provide an essential service but want to make sure their employees are safe. “We started with the cleaning of our facilities. Our maintenance crew would go around and clean common areas three times a day. Our employees clean their own areas twice a day,” he revealed.

Signs that states “Phoenix Specialty is an essential supplier to the medical industry” are placed next to each press making those life-saving parts — helping to give employees a morale boost.

It’s one way Cornforth said he can be proud of Phoenix’s motto “Made in the USA.” “One good thing during this pandemic is we have had a reduction in work, but our employees have stayed employed. They’re still working their normal shifts that have not stopped. I’m happy to be working for a company like Phoenix that has survived during this downturn in our economy,” he said.

Shawn learned during the pandemic, Phoenix continued its regular mission in addition to making ventilator parts. When the pandemic is finally over, the plant will continue to service its hundreds of existing customers.

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