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New company projects 200 jobs
Apollo - Kenneth better.jpg
Kenneth Perry is opening Apollo Medical Products at the old Aquatech building at 904 Red Road. Production is scheduled to begin on Monday and Perry says the plan is to produce about 6 million masks the first week.

A new company is expected to start manufacturing in McMinnville on Monday and produce 6 million facemasks its first week of operation.

Apollo Medical Products is beginning operation at 904 Red Road at a spacious facility commonly known as the old Aquatech building.

The company is projected to grow its workforce to around 200 employees over the next six months with an attractive starting pay of $20 per hour. It will begin by manufacturing masks for the medical community and then add disinfectant wipes to its production a few months down the road.

Tennessee native and Nashville resident Kenneth Perry, 60, is the company owner. This is his sixth start-up company.

“I formed this entity in April 2020 when there was a shortage of PPE supplies,” said Perry. “Nobody could find anything and I said there has to be a better way to do this. I also wondered why we weren’t making more of these supplies here in the U.S.”

Perry said he ordered masks from another country and the shipment he received turned out to be largely junk. “Once they get here, you’re pretty much stuck with them,” he said.

Perry first started to look for a manufacturing facility around the Nashville area but nothing seemed to fit. He broadened his search and discovered the old Aquatech building would be a perfect spot.

“As soon as I saw this place, I knew this is where I needed to be,” said Perry. “I believe there is a huge push to buy American products and we will be making our masks with all USA components. At this time especially, you don’t want to rely on another country for your product.”

He added, “Two years ago, it cost $5,000 to get a shipping container here from overseas. Now it costs $30,000 and it will take twice as long.”

There is a widespread debate about wearing masks in America and Perry says he wants no part of this debate. 

His masks are for members of the medical community who have long been required to wear facemasks before COVID ever entered our vocabulary.

“These are not masks for the general public,” said Perry. “What I’ve found is there really isn’t a surplus of any kind for these medical masks. Every mask made is already accounted for because companies are filling the needs of their existing customers and not accepting more work. For there to be a new company, an American company, making masks will really be a great benefit. There aren’t many medical products being manufactured today that aren’t accounted for. We will be signing a bunch of contracts very soon. As we sign more contracts, we will be able to hire more workers. We’ll add jobs as our contracts demand.”

Perry says he has a current workforce of 12 with hundreds of applications to consider when more jobs become available in the near future. He says he will pay employees well but he expects a productive work day in return.

“I’m a Tennessee guy. I’m a family oriented guy,” said Perry. “I want to pay people fairly and that’s why we started with a $20 base wage. We’ll offer insurance through Blue Cross and we’ll also have profit sharing. We expect to be here for the long term.”

All the materials are on hand to produce the masks, including ear loops, nose wire and three layers of mesh. Perry described how the masks will travel down the production line and be completely assembled on site with high efficiency in mind.

He expects to send out his first order of 120,000 boxes of masks at the end of this week. With 50 masks in each box, that amounts to 6 million masks.

“If you stop by in two months, this whole plant will be humming,” said Perry with a smile. “This is perfect for large-volume manufacturing.”