Editor’s note: The story below corrects the location of the business to Springfield Township. We regret the error.
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – For more than 50 years, the family-owned Hitch Hiker Manufacturing in Springfield Township has earned a reputation for its high-end food trailers at state fairs and other events. But when the economy shut down because of COVID-19, orders were canceled.
“We had some money tied up in some materials and we were just thinking, ‘OK…we’re not going to let this beat us.’ We wanted to keep our people working,” Holly Swartz said.
Just as many of us did, owners Holly and Jeff Swartz spent their afternoons in March watching Gov. Mike DeWine talk over and over about needing to slow the spread.
“We need something. We need high-volume hand washing, social distancing. Let’s bring all these things together,” Jeff said.
What they came up with was a four-sided hand washing station on wheels with hands-free faucets, sinks, soap and towel dispensers. They’re marketed under the new brand name “Personal Protected.”
The couple claims more than 700 people can wash up at one of the stations in an hour.
Youngstown State has already ordered 10 of them with the university’s logo. Several others have been delivered to over half-a-dozen school districts in the area.
“Everybody that has come in and seen the unit in-person with their own eyes — we’re 100% of them purchasing units for their facilities,” Jeff said.
Having completely retooled their shop, the Swartzes said it takes about two weeks to build one washing station. They claim demand is growing to the point where they’re looking to expand their operation.