Montgomery Co. sports outfitter pivots to making masks 7 days per week

Pile of face masks.
Lightning Wear Apparel in Kensington, Maryland, has pivoted from making items such as uniforms for sports teams to face masks, amid the coronavirus crisis. (Courtesy Lightning Wear Apparel)

A Montgomery County, Maryland, business that makes uniforms for sports teams had never produced face masks — but the coronavirus pandemic changed everything, and now making masks are pretty much all the business does.

“We laughed at my mom’s suggestion that we should start making face masks,” said Dan Walsh, owner of Lightning Wear Apparel in Kensington.

Walsh said his business needed to do something different to generate income, as custom orders for sports teams were falling short due to the coronavirus crisis.

He explored the option of making masks and decided it was worth a try.

Now his business is churning them out constantly and shipping them across the country.

“It wasn’t long before we were getting 2,000 and 3,000-piece orders,” said Walsh. “We have the ability to turn this stuff fast, so we have been fortunate with that.”

Pile of face masks.
Lightning Wear Apparel in Kensington, Maryland, has pivoted from making uniforms for sports teams to face masks, amid the coronavirus crisis. (Courtesy Lightning Wear Apparel)

Lightning Wear Apparel has mass produced masks for large hospitals, nursing homes, cleaning companies and Montgomery County government employees.

The company has even done work for the U.S. Secret Service.

“We’re pushing out 10,000 to 15,000 masks a week,” said Walsh. “Everybody is putting in a full 12 hour work day, seven days a week. It’s insane.”


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Some of the larger orders of masks feature logos of the hospitals, nursing homes and other companies that they are made for, but the most popular design has been the American flag.

Because the business is based in Maryland, it also makes masks featuring the Maryland state flag.

Another company based in Towson, Maryland, has had success with that particular kind of mask.

Route One Apparel, which sells Maryland-themed clothing, has been selling masks featuring symbols including the Maryland state flag, Old Bay and a crab.

It caught the attention of Md. Gov. Larry Hogan, who wore one of their masks and praised the business during a recent news conference.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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