When a client told Dan Waters at Berlin Packaging of the need for space to ready its COVID-19 test kits for shipment, he offered up a portion of Berlin’s warehouse in Clinton, near Pittsburgh International Airport.
Now Berlin, a Chicago-based packaging supplier with 900 manufacturing partners around the globe, is building a temporary workforce to help with the test kits project. The maker of the kits wants to remain anonymous, says Julie Saltzman, Berlin’s corporate director of marketing.
“We’re packaging for them and shipping across the country,” Saltzman says. “Once we’re fully staffed, we can do 200,000 a week. The bulk are going across the Pittsburgh area, to schools and hospitals, so it’s regional, but also national.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Health maintains a list of testing sites for COVID-19 online. Most hospitals are testing patients even if they don’t have symptoms of the disease.
Saltzman estimates the company has packaged and shipped one million test kits since the project began in May. It will continue through September. They’ve hired 10 people and need at least 20 more. People who want to apply can do so through an online link, or call 412-430-3175 to schedule an interview.
Berlin Packaging has been in Pittsburgh for 20 years and last fall moved all of its operations to a 300,000-square-foot warehouse in the Clinton Commerce Park. It’s where Berlin employees assemble packaging for products such as laboratory supplies and hazardous materials.
“We’re the largest hybrid packaging supplier. We work with everyone from craft breweries to food manufacturers to personal care,” says Saltzman. “We were deemed an essential business all along, and hand sanitizer has been a huge thing for us. Then a customer, who does not want to be named, came and said, ‘We’re in need of space to package these kits — can you help us?’ And we said, ‘Sure.’ They needed the area and the workforce.”
Aside from the temporary workforce for COVID-19, Berlin employs more than 125 people in the Pittsburgh area.