THE COVID pandemic and its resultant financial crisis are triggering a profound transformation of the manufacture and industry sectors throughout Spain.
At the height of the first wave in March and April last year, companies were forced to adapt overnight to a completely new business landscape. One of the most notable cases was car factories that switched to building respirators for hospitals, in response to the almost total temporary collapse of the motor trade while vital life-saving equipment was scarce.
Meanwhile, facemasks have become almost a fashion statement as well as an obligatory sanitary device. Long gone are the days when these pieces of gauze or cloth, that seemed so alien to most of the Western world until so recently, could only be purchased from China.
A perfect example of this can be found in Castellon city, where a local company has now become the main producer of FFP2 masks in Spain.
Increasingly considered much safer and effective than regular surgical masks, Airnatech Antiviral currently produces an average of 360,000 units a day of the FFP2 ‘duck beak’ filters.
With a workforce of 250 employees, the firm not only supplies large Spanish wholesalers and online platforms, but is also currently in negotiations to begin exporting to Germany, Sweden and Austria.
Even more impressive is the backstory behind the venture. Airnatech Antiviral was founded by five entrepreneurs from totally unrelated fields such as IT, architecture, gastronomy and hospitality, who had the idea during the home lockdown last year.
They bought their first machine and began producing a mask with a type of cloth that was 99.9% effective against bacteria but also more comfortable, breathable and fully made in Spain.
As demand spiralled, the consortium gradually expanded their facilities until reaching their current status as the country’s number one producer, selling to all the major chains such as Carrefour, El Corte Ingles, Consum and Lidl, among others.
If the export plans work out, the sky is the limit for this Valencian group who have managed to turn lead into gold.