FSM Mass Producing Facemasks


by Terry Rogers 

First State Manufacturing employees create masks

The founders and staff at First State Manufacturing (FSM) have always looked at the opportunity to provide products and services to the state and federal government as their way of serving the country. When the company got the call from Dover Air Force Base asking if they could mass produce face masks, they immediately reorganized production lines to not only continue to provide products to customers within the Department of Defense, but to move personal protection items for the base to the front of the line.

Sher Valenzuela, Vice President of FSM,  explained that the company is creating cloth face-coverings that comply with the Center for Disease Control and the U.S. Surgeon General guidelines. The company has provided numerous items for Dover Air Force Base and the C5 aircraft for many years.

“As an essential business, our operations have remained unchanged,” Valenzuela said. “We cut our teeth early on when our country experienced the devastation of 9/11 and everything seemed to go “on pause” for six months. Our workforce deserves a standing ovation for this. They, like the rest of our nation’s essential workforce, have had to juggle the demands of “business as usual” at a time when so many other challenges are tugging at their sleeves. Yet, they remain dependable, keeping our state and nation moving forward. They are the true heroes.”

Valenzuela stated that one of the key values of First State Manufacturing is to provide dignity in the workplace, something that has taken on new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We don’t believe in micromanaging the hygiene habits of a highly effective workforce communicates dignity to those we employ,’ Valenzuela said. “We’ve underlined the need for heightened vigilance of already effective day-to-day habits and trust the ability of our amazing workforce to continue to do what they do every day of the year. We remain who we are in every way. I think that’s an important principle for every small business struggling right now.”

Every order that comes in is the most important order to First State Manufacturing, Valenzuela stated, and every customer that calls on them for services is the most important customer.

“Every individual that connects with us to provide the goods and services we deliver is critically important,” Valenzuela said. “We are extremely grateful for the efforts of our Sussex County small business alliance champions, like Bill Pfaff, Executive Director of the Sussex County Economic Development Office and Juanita Beauford of Delaware’s Procurement Technical Assistance Program. These folks have been working overtime to connect the small businesses of Delaware to our state and national procurement specialists in a manner that can only be described as “above and beyond.” Delaware’s Emergency Management Association has been doing a great job as well. The beat at First State Manufacturing goes on, just as it has in the past, as it does now and will in the days to come.”