By Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi
Andrew Min ’04 is at the helm of his family’s small business, which is playing a big role in Hawai‘i’s effort to control the spread of COVID-19. As the general manager of Honolulu-based Min Plastics & Supply, Inc., he oversees all aspects of the company that was founded in 1950 by his grandfather, Frank Min.
Min Plastics is the largest plastic sheet supplier and fabricator in Hawai‘i. Prior to the pandemic, it was manufacturing products such as signage, marine windows and museum display cases, but in spring 2020, as the virus began spreading rapidly in our islands and around the globe, it immediately responded by designing and producing a variety of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“It was evident in March last year that medical personnel were in dire need of face shields,” Andrew said. “We had materials on hand that could be used to make them, and on March 20, we distributed the initial run to friends and family who were working on the front lines in hospitals. Within hours, we were flooded with requests for more; by the end of March, we had donated more than 3,000 face shields to first responders and health-care facilities across the state.”
Since then, Min Plastics has filled orders for more than 70,000 face shields, thanks in part to a $500,000 CARES Act grant. It has also supplied Costco, Safeway, Central Pacific Bank, Polynesian Cultural Center, Mercedes-Benz Hawai‘i and some 4,000 other businesses, schools, government agencies and nonprofit organizations with other types of PPE, including sneeze guards and cubicle divider extensions.
According to Andrew, Min Plastic’s small size enables it to be nimble—to quickly solve problems, adapt to changing circumstances and devise custom solutions. “We have 13 employees who work together closely to reach our goals of quality, accuracy and reliability for every job we do, whether it’s big or small,” he says. “They represent 150-plus years of expertise in the field of plastics—skill and knowledge that are invaluable as we help to meet the largest demand for plastic products that the industry has ever faced.”
Last summer, when Mid-Pacific ordered sneeze guards, Andrew and his brother Arron ’09 personally handled the job in a display of aloha for their alma mater. In addition, Min Plastics donated 800 face shields to our school, and Brian Grantham, director of our Educational Technology department, and Lance Iwamoto, one of his tech specialists, made the 3D-printed frames for them. President Paul Turnbull and his family assisted on evenings and weekends, so the process could continue round the clock until it was completed in two months.
“The pandemic has greatly affected life worldwide,” Andrew says. “We at Min Plastics are grateful we’ve been able to help local schools, businesses and organizations operate safely and confidently during this public-health crisis. Using our state-of-the-art equipment, we’re continually researching new ways we can contribute. Yes, these are uncertain times, but we appreciate the opportunity we have to serve our community.”