‘An endless demand’: To keep up with COVID test kit production, Evco Plastics seeks to hire

DEFOREST, Wis. – A Deforest plastics company is looking to hire employees to help keep up with the demand for COVID-19 testing kits.

Evco Plastics, an injection molding company started in 1964, has machines running 24/7 in one of its three area facilities to produce at-home saliva tests for a customer that once made DNA testing kits.

“Major League Baseball just used it. We just saw a commercial for it, so they’ve been getting a lot of press on that, and we cannot keep up with their demands,” said Kate Bashir, director of sales strategy. “It’s been exciting, but challenging, too, because we want to be part of the cause and cure, but we can’t find people to help us.”

The company is also making face shields in response to the pandemic.

“The whole facility and teams I’ve worked with have been very busy, and we’ve been spread thin,” Project Engineer Cole Amborn said.

According to Amborn, Evco Plastics currently makes 10,000 to 20,000 test kits a day. The goal is to make that number closer to 66,000, resulting in two million per month.

“We do have a lot of automation: robots picking parts and sometimes even packing them,” Bashir said. “But we still need people.”

Human Resources Manager Amy Ruehlow has been with the family-owned company for more than 22 years and said the average employee tenure is more than 10 years.

“It’s not just work that I’m going to, but I do feel like I’m working with family,” Ruehlow said.

She wasn’t sure why they’re having a tough time hiring with unemployment rates so high. She said Evco could be a perfect fit for those seeking employment during a time when their product is so needed.

“They’re taking as my kits as we can make. Obviously, the faster we can fill positions the more kits that they will take,” Ruehlow said. “We’re making a difference, so I think that’s even more important now.”

“It’s kind of been surreal to be involved with. It’s rewarding (because) of the cause and function of the kits,” Amborn said. “I think a lot of people will reflect on these times and be able to say, ‘During the pandemic I was helping out firsthand and providing the testing that’s needed to move past this.”

The company is looking to hire 40 to 50 people for a variety of shifts and positions, beyond just making COVID-19 test kits.