How many blogs, emails, letters, and other communications have you received from people trying to speak into your life “for such a time as this”? I’m pretty sure I’ve received dozens at to this point, and it’s no wonder because this is a time like no other we’ve experienced.

We are trying NOT to write our blog each week with this same theme because it can feel like we’re just restating the obvious each week. At the same time, we want to be attentive to the fact that this is a really unusual and especially important time for good leaders to step up.

This week, rather than reminding you of advice about how to lead well in times of great uncertainty, I decided to find out if any of you have stories about how you are stepping up in new ways. I reached out a close customers that started taking a big leap in 3D printing several months ago.

In 2019, Extol decided to pursue 3D printing in a big way. They call this new facet of their business Additive Manufacturing. They’re using 3D printing for smaller run production parts, and I suspected they would be involved in helping to address the shortages in protective personal equipment that we are all hearing about.

Extol is one of the many West Michigan companies who have put several of their leaders through LEAD 24/7, and Kyle Harvey is the alum that is heading up their Additive Manufacturing effort. Kyle showed me what they were doing back in October and, as a former engineer in the manufacturing world, I was blown away by what I saw.

Knowing how interesting the Yanfeng alumni event was last summer, Janet Wielenga and I decided a visit to Extol would be a good alumni event for April. We had just scheduled it for later this month before everything changed. We still hope to offer you a tour when things get back to normal.

I am inspired by what they are doing for the COVID-19 battle and thought you might be too. Here is what Kyle shared:

We are working on a number of projects to fight COVID-19:

  • Manufacturing face shields. We delivered 200 to Holland Hospital, and are gearing up to make thousands more with a more economical 3D printing design.
  • Working with multiple hospitals to develop non-invasive ventilator helmets, which are used to treat COVID-19. We have requests for these from all over the country.
  • Supporting development work of others working on masks, ventilator splitters, etc. by 3D printing parts.
  • Producing prototypes of ventilator parts. We delivered a batch them to Ford recently, and we expect to be producing many more bridge production parts by the end of this week.
  • Developing and manufacturing an N95 SCBA mask adaptor for firefighters. We have requests from all over the country for the adaptor.

Here’s a short video from Extol that shows how the N95 SCBA mask adaptor works:

Hearing about what Extol is doing inspired me and makes me proud of West Michigan. If you and your company are also pivoting to make a difference in this unique time, please let me know—we would love to hear about it.

In the meantime, lead well!

Image of N95 SCBA mask adaptor courtesy of Extol. All rights reserved.