Novolex Shields Bag & Printing

Novolex pieced together machinery which normally makes food, birdseed and ice melt bags to produce isolation gowns in its Shields plant in Yakima.

YAKIMA — Novolex, which operates a plant in Yakima, was selected for the Association of Washington Business' 2020 Manufacturing Excellence Award in innovation.

The award recognizes a Washington state company that has maintained a competitive advantage through innovation and by responding to market demands.

The company, which has locations in Yakima and Vancouver, was recognized for shifting its manufacturing operations from food packaging and containers to personal protective equipment, or PPE, including plastic isolation gowns.

Shields, the Novolex company in Yakima, started making PPE early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Company officials said the move saved the company from making layoffs.

The Association of Washington Business gave Novolex the award virtually Monday as part of the organization's Manufacturing Week, an annual event to highlight the state's manufacturing sector. The innovation award is the first of four that the trade organization will give this week.

The organization converted Manufacturing Week from its typical week-long bus tour to a week of virtual programming about manufacturing.

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