A Gorham company has been hired by the state to produce a half a million face shields for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The shields are considered critical protective equipment as front line health care workers throughout the state treat patients infected with the coronavirus.

Flowfold, which moved from Scarborough into a much larger space in Gorham in 2018, announced Tuesday that it won the contract to supply the Maine CDC with the face shields. The shields will be used by the state CDC, hospitals and businesses that are reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The contract is worth $2.7 million and was finalized Tuesday, according to Kyle Hadyniak, director of communications for the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services. The contract calls for production of 500,000 full face shields at $5.50 each.

“This milestone is just incredible, and we are constantly amazed at how we have transformed our company in response to COVID-19,” Flowfold spokeswoman Sara G. Hartman said in an email. “We went from making wallets one day to making a million face masks in less than a month! It has been a whirlwind of effort and emotion.”

In 2010, Flowfold began making wallets out of repurposed sail fabric before expanding its product line to include backpacks, tote bags, dog collars and leashes, T-shirts and hats. But on March 24, seeing the shortage of personal protective equipment, the company pivoted manufacturing operations to protective face shields. Since then, Flowfold has shipped the shields to healthcare facilities all over the region, including the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Flowfold said that with help from manufacturing partner L.L. Bean, it is positioned to double its current output of shields from 50,000 to 100,000 a week. When it started, it was producing 1,000 shields per week.

In February 2018, L.L. Bean announced it would be partnering with Flowfold to replace the classic Bean boot’s leather uppers with the tough sailcloth that Flowfold was producing.

The two companies had already been collaborating on a line of outdoor bags and gear. In late March, L.L. Bean announced it would begin sewing material from the company’s dog bed liners into medical masks with plans to produce as many as 10,000 a day.

“We are proud to partner with Flowfold once again, combining our resources to support fellow Mainers,” L.L. Bean CEO Steve Smith said.

“Flowfold is proud to be able to supply its home state with PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially since it is partnering with other local companies, most notably L.L. Bean,” Flowfold said. “Flowfold and L.L. Bean have worked together for over five years, collaborating on everything from sailcloth wallets to the first-ever Bean Boot redesign.”

Flowfold, which was founded a decade ago, changed its production lines in March, suspending production of travel gear at its Gorham factory to focus on the face shields.

“Since we pivoted, our goal has been to quickly and safely make a quality product that will protect the healthcare and essential workers who wear them,” Flowfold CEO Devin McNeill said.

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