Pulsar replaces paper goods with mask production in response to COVID-19

When the coronavirus hit Cleveland, the first thing Eric Ludwig was thinking about was how his company could help fight the pandemic. As founder of Pulsar Eco Products, which designs and makes paper products for the arts and crafts retail and the cruise industries, Ludwig was in the middle of making products for the summer Alaskan cruise season.


But as soon as Ludwig realized Pulsar could help fight COVID-19 in his own town, Ludwig shifted from making scrapbooking kits, photo folios, journals, and lanyards for Alaskan cruise ship gift shops to making disposable medical and consumer masks and KN95 respirators.


Eric Ludwig, founder of Pulsar Eco Products“We decided to pivot,” Ludwig recalls. “[We want] to help our community, locally and otherwise, to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19.”


Ludwig adds that business has been down 40% since the virus hit Cleveland, with the cruise industry making up 75% of his business. The remaining 25% of Pulsar’s sales comes from bricks-and-mortar retailers and event centers, many of which have closed.


Pulsar can now crank out 2.5 million masks a week. After partnering with Barry Jacobson, president of Chagrin Falls-based promotional products company KMK to increase production ability, Ludwig says they are delivering between one million and 1.5 million masks a week, fulfilling orders around the world.


Additionally, Pulsar is donating masks to customers in health care and frontline industries.


Ludwig this week delivered 20,000 masks to organizations in need, with plans to donate 20,000 each week for the next few weeks for a total of 70,000 masks worth $50,000 in the upcoming weeks.


“You can’t help the entire world, but at least we can help some of the local organizations,” says Ludwig. “According to our governor [Mike DeWine], the need is going to continue in the next few weeks. We’re trying to support our governor and [Ohio Department of Health Director] Dr. Amy Acton as they curtail this pandemic.”


Pulsar is donating masks to customers in health care and frontline industries.Donations this week went to University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, MedWish International, and Medworks; and senior care facilities Menorah Park, The Weils, and Arden Courts.


Ludwig says they are also donating masks to Heinen’s and local Giant Eagle and Dollar General stores in and around Shaker Heights and Chagrin Falls, where Ludwig and Jacobson live.


“It’s scary now, working in a grocery environment,” says Ludwig. “People working at the hospitals or grocery stores are putting their lives at risk. The goal is to improve the supply chain for the hospitals and the places we visit.”


Ludwig says he plans to continue producing the masks as long as the need exists.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.