Follett Joins Fight Against COVID-19 With Company’s New Expansion

By Colin McEvoy on January 26, 2021

Follett President Korey Kohl speaking with LVEDC in September 2020 as part of the organization’s executive video interview series.

As Follett LLC moved forward with its $12 million plans to expand its Forks Township manufacturing facility, the company realized the timing of its expansion created a unique opportunity to join the fight against the coronavirus crisis.

The manufacturer of refrigeration products is adding another 96,000 square feet to its facility, and part of that project included a redesign of its line of the type of upright medical-grade refrigerators and freezers that will be used for storage of COVID-19 vaccines.

Although those freezers weren’t part of the company’s original plans for the expansion, the timing of the project allowed Follett to increase its production line to help support Operation Warp Speed, the national initiative for the development and distribution of the vaccines.

“So the timing was just perfect,” said Michael Rice, Follett’s Vice President of Marketing and Customer Service.

Follett President Korey Kohl discussed the company’s expansion, as well as other aspects of the company, as part of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation’s (LVEDC) series of video interviews with new corporate executives from across the region.

The interview with Kohl, which was conducted by LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham, can be viewed below as well as on LVEDC’s YouTube channel. Other interviews from the series can be found here.

COVID-19 vaccines must be stored at precise ultra-low temperature specifications, going as cold as -70 to -110 degrees Fahrenheit. The units Follett will be manufacturing are not that cold, Rice said.

However, they can be used to store the vaccines in the -30 to -40 degree Fahrenheit range during intermediate stages as the vaccine is kept in an increasingly warmer environment before being administered, Rice said.

“That’s where our equipment comes into play: in the few days where it can be stored at a lower temperature prior to the actual administration,” he said.

Follett’s expansion has led to a large number of orders for refrigerators from health networks, federal veteran hospitals, and other clients across the company’s customer base. These include large refrigerators for storing multiple vaccines, as well as smaller freezers for use on individual hospital floors.

Follett’s addition will allow the company to grow and consolidate its current Bethlehem Township location into one building. The company currently employs about 300 people in the Lehigh Valley, and is actively seeking to fill about 20 current job openings.

The expansion is expected to add 50 more employees to Follet’s office staff, as well 50 new manufacturing jobs and 30 remote positions, Rice said.

Since 1948, Follett has led the industry in designing and manufacturing high quality, innovative ice storage bins, ice storage and transport systems, ice machines, ice and water dispensers, and ice and beverage dispensers for the global food service industry.

Follett is one of 12 brands Kohl is responsible for as Group President at the Middleby Corporation, a global leader in the food service equipment industry, which acquired Follett four years ago.

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