Born and raised in Louisville, Jeff Gordon pursued engineering at Purdue University, worked on the Chevy Volt project for GM in Michigan, and returned to his hometown seven years ago. After the family engineering firm was sold a year and a half ago, Jeff was looking for ways to channel his energy, resources, and talents. He enjoyed spending time with his family and piloting private planes out of his hangar at Bowman Field. When Kentucky’s “Healthy at Home” orders were put in place due to the coronavirus, “sitting at home wasn’t an option” for Jeff. He set his engineering training and machines back to work, partnering with Maker13 in Jeffersonville, Indiana, Owings Patterns in Sellersburg, Indiana, and Jones Machine and Tool in Fredericksburg, Indiana, to produce face shields for front line healthcare workers. Owings Patterns does the die-cutting and Jones Machine Tool provides injection molds.
Another company, Samtec, through their philanthropic arm Samtec Cares donated $50,000, expertise, and materials to produce face shields. Jeff added another $10,000 once Samtec had run through their initial $50,000. He then continued the operation with another $40,000. Smaller orders are donated. Larger orders are sold at-cost or for slim profits which are funneled back into operations. So far, production has been limited to local and in-state hospitals and healthcare systems. A friend of Jeff’s who is a physician in Florida informed him of the need for intubation protection boxes. Jeff now produces and provides these through gordon-tec.com. Intubation boxes and face shields are not only protective in and of themselves, but also serve to protect other PPE such as face masks so that they may be saved and worn for longer periods of time.
In addition to business partners, Jeff is assisted in his operations by his wife, his mother, and volunteers who practice social distancing with porch pick-ups and drop-offs of face shields that have been cleaned and sanitized to remove residue from initial production. Packing and shipping runs out of Jeff’s Bowman Field hangar. He says, “Sitting around on the couch watching Netflix would drive me nuts. This is my fidget spinner, so to speak.”
As the threat of COVID-19 winds down and demand eases, if Jeff were to end up with any extra money through the sale of large orders of intubation boxes, he would give it to charity. “My intention is to lose money.” In fact, when asked whether he would accept monetary donations toward their continued production of face masks and intubation boxes, Jeff would prefer they be directed to PPE efforts more strapped for cash. The experience has changed him by sparking ideas about how to continue to assist the medical community with innovation and engineering.