Mentor, Boys & Girls Club show what crisis teamwork can accomplish

Never let a serious crisis go to waste. That saying, popularized by Rahm Emanuel, former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, refers to seizing the opportunity in chaotic times to accomplish things you didn’t think you were capable of previously.

And that’s exactly what Jonas Angus, the president of Shirley-based TPS Solutions Inc., set out to do by partnering with students at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster to produce face shields for doctors and nurses batting the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wanted to inspire the students and at the same time expose them to engineering, science and understanding entrepreneurship,” Angus, who is an engineer, told the newspaper about the project to build face shields using 3-D printing equipment his company provided for the start-up venture.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Angus, who’s also a B&G Club of Fitchburg and Leominster board member, contacted Donata Martin, the executive director of the club, and challenged a team of the club’s members to research and design a production line to make the shields for hospitals experiencing shortages of personal protective equipment.

“Jonas’ challenge to the members was just what they needed during a time when their whole world was disrupted,” Martin said.

When formulating the idea for the production line, Angus said he’d always been inspired by what former President John F. Kennedy said about sending a man to the moon. “We didn’t know exactly how we were going to (send a man to the moon), but we did, so let’s just go in and save some lives,” he said.

And to that we can say: mission accomplished.

A face-shield prototype was tried by a local doctor, and buoyed by that positive feedback, plans were immediately made for TPE Solutions to completely fund the purchase of two new 3-D printers.

Angus said the design of the face shield was based on a PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified) material, selected for its light weight, scratch resistance, superior optics/clarity and lower cost.

TPE, which specializes in producing both off-the shelf and custom thermoplastic elastomer products, then purchased a significant amount of PETG sheets, and then set up shop in its warehouse to trim them to the proper 9 ½” x 12” dimensions, which the Boys & Girls Club team used to create 600 pieces to kick off production, Angus said.

The club is now in full face-shield production mode, which they’re donating to UMass Memorial Hospital, other area hospitals and medical facilities that desperately need PPE. The face shields are also available for sale at $15 each to the general public.

This wasn’t Angus’ first entrepreneurship project with the club’s students. He also set up a T-shirt printing business, paying for all of the necessary equipment. He said that exercise provided an excellent way for students to understand how to run a business.

During the 2008 Great Recession Rahm Emanuel saw an opportunity to use the crisis to create a more responsible global financial network

Jonas Angus and his Boys & Girls Club team not only formulated a goal, but took it to fruition, benefiting those health care professionals who put their lives on the line daily.

We in the Twin Cities are fortunate to have this kind of compassion and talent to tap.

For more information about TPE Solutions, visit



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