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Serving America in a Time of Need

{Editor’s Note: We are pleased to share the following article on American Saddlebred/Hackney owner/exhibitor Jeoff Bodenhorst and the good works his company is doing during this pandemic.}

Lebanon Apparel, Corporation (LA Corp) has weathered a lot of storms.

The Russell County (Va.) business founded in 1968 by Glenn O. Thornhill, the father of Mary Alice Thornhill Bodenhorst (E&H ’75) is now led by and operated by Jeoff Bodenhorst (E&H ’75) and their son Jeoff Bodenhorst Jr. Years ago, when the U.S. entered into a raft of global trade deals, the garment industry in this country suffered. The Bodenhorst family has been flexible and nimble and they’ve kept LA Corp alive and thriving.

And now, they finding themselves in the right place at the right time to serve the country: they are making face masks and gowns for health care workers battling COVID-19.

The company had been making everything from men’s khakis and women’s dresses to mattress covers and bus seats. But as the pandemic hit, many of their orders were retracted because of closing businesses.  At the exact same time, U.S. health workers were decrying a shortage of necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). LA Corp was ready to serve.

Jeoff says they’re not in this alone: rather, they are working with a consortium of companies and organizations who are all seeking to work past bureaucracy and create up to 10 million pieces to assist FEMA at this unprecedented moment.  “Our employees are manufacturing 20-25,000 masks per week and we’re making 45-80,000 non-disposable PPE gowns.”

Jeoff is known for being a strong supporter of his employees, and he is glad to be able to offer this work to more than 150 employees at a time when unemployment nationwide is at a record high. “We’re practicing social distance within the plant and doing a lot of education about sanitation. Our employees are really thrilled to be able to serve the country like this.”

He’s also proud to be working with his son, Jeoff, who is president of the “SEAMS Association” (the source for domestic sewn products supply chain) – an organization that has Jeoff serving a prominent role in getting supply chains set up for this important work. And he’s proud to be working alongside another E&H alum, Ryan Hubbard (E&H ’16) who is a manager at LA Corp.

Jeoff doesn’t want to make too many predictions about what comes next, but you can bet he will be making decisions that are supportive of his employees, and he echoes a sentiment stated by E&H faculty member, Dr. Deb Spencer in a recent interview about economics: “local” matters. “I’m hopeful that we’re all realizing the importance of having more supply lines within the U.S. – and I hope more people are thinking about how to support their local communities.”

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