Bow siblings and cousin manufacturing professional-grade face shields

  • Dr. Roger Achong of Concord Pediatric Dentistry at Concord Hospital wears one of the Wilox mask during day surgery. Courtesy

  • Paul Wiley puts the final touches on a Wilox mask in the basement of the Wiley home in Bow on Tuesday, May 13, 2020. The name was formed with the combination of the two cousins names. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • ABOVE: Paul Wiley (far left), his cousin Luke Knox, brother Matt Wiley and sister Mary Anne Wiley form an assembly line in the basement of the Wiley home in Bow on Tuesday making their custom Wilox masks for medical use. BELOW: Paul Wiley puts the final touches on a Wilox mask. The Wilox name comes from combining the last names of the cousins. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Matt Wiley and his sister Mary Anne start the process of making their Wilox face shield in the basement of their parents home in Bow on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Paul Wiley (far left) , his cousin Luke Knox, brother Matt Wiley and sister Mary Anne Wiley form an assembly line in the basement of the Wiley home in Bow on Tuesday, May 13, 2020 making their custom Wilox masks medical use. The name was formed with the combination of the two cousins names. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Mary Anne Wiley starts the process of putting together the Wilox face shield mask in the basement of her parents home in Bow on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Cousins Paul Wiley (left) and Luke Knox put together the Wilox face shield mask in the basement of the Wiley home on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. The name of their mask is the combination of their last names. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Cousin Luke Knox (far left) stands with his cousins Matt, Mary Anne and Paul Wiley in the basement of the Wiley's basement where the group makes their Wilox face shield mask on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. The Wilox brand name is a combination of the cousins' last names. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Paul Wiley calls up the name of their Wilox face shield mask in the basement of the Wiley home in Bow on Tuesday, May 13, 2020. The name was formed with the combination of the two cousins names. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 5/13/2020 2:48:13 PM

This story starts in an eighth-grade woodworking class at Shaker Road School. That’s where Paul Wiley made his first pen. Now, eight years later, Wiley is making professional grade protective face shields in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Wiley and his two siblings, Mary Anne and Matthew, along with cousin Luke Knox, are currently manufacturing the personal protective equipment out of a refurbished space at the Wiley’s Bow home. So far, they’ve donated 40 shields to Concord Hospital and they’re planning to donate more to other hospitals in need. They’re also working on face shields specially designed for dentists. The shields are part of Paul’s start-up company, Wilox, which he co-founded with Knox. The company, which blends their last names, has already developed a long-lasting hand sanitizer and is working on a commercial spray system to disinfect gathering spaces, like school classrooms.

Making the equipment and donating it was an easy decision.

“We wanted to do what we can to help,” said Paul, who just finished his senior year at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

That motivation to help went into overdrive after Wiley’s parents, who are both health care workers at Concord Hospital, contracted the coronavirus in March.

“We just saw personally first-hand what terrible effects this virus has on families, and if we can do anything to prevent other families from being put in the position that we were put in, we wanted to do that,” said Matthew, a sophomore at Bishop Brady High School.

The Wiley parents are both fully recovered and back at work. Not only did they help inspire the PPE production, they were part of the R&D team for the face shields. The Wiley kids made multiple prototypes and got feedback from their parents and other health care workers. In the end, they came up with some innovations to help make their face shields safe and comfortable – a rounded shape to better cover faces and a foam pad where the forehead rests for long-lasting comfort.

Concord Hospital certainly appreciated the innovations. It thanked the Wileys with a statement that can be found on the Wilox website:

“We’ve received several donations and many different designs, but your company’s was met with the highest praise,” the hospital said of the face shields. “Many we received were too short to adequately protect the wearer or did not curve enough to the face and your design met both and many were very impressed.”

The Wiley parents, somewhat unwittingly, helped steer Paul down this entrepreneurial path years ago. Paul wanted an Airsoft gun (similar to a BB gun but with softer pellets) for a Christmas present when he was a freshman at Trinity High School in Manchester. His parents’ response to that request didn’t include the famous refrain from the 1983 movie A Christmas Story, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” but it was close.

“My parents were afraid I’d shoot my brother and sister,” Paul said. “So instead they got me a woodworking lathe with a kit on how to make pens, because they knew how much I liked that woodworking class in eighth grade. A lathe is probably more dangerous than the Airsoft gun, but they didn’t know that because they didn’t have any experience with it.”

No one has been hurt, so far, by the lathe. Instead, Paul made a pen that attracted the attention of one of his ice hockey teammates at Trinity. The teammate bought the pen and soon other Trinity students wanted their own pen. Eventually, Wiley was making pens for large companies, which were giving them out as corporate gifts, and that venture won Wiley the Holy Cross Shark Tank Competition when he was a freshman in 2017.

The pens were popular, but the demand was too much for a college student.

“Sophomore year I realized it wasn’t scalable because each pen took around 10 minutes to make, so if I got an order for 500 I would have to leave Holy Cross, come up to New Hampshire, not study, not sleep, just make pens,” said Paul, who transferred to Bishop Brady for his final two years of high school before going to Holy Cross. “It was affecting the grades, so I had to transition to something else.”

That something else was hand sanitizer, which the Wiley kids were very familiar with long before the coronavirus made it one of the most coveted products on the planet. Because of their parents’ profession, the Wileys were constantly going in and out of hospitals and constantly using hand sanitizer. Paul wanted to make a sanitizer that would last, so he teamed up with his cousin Knox, who, like Paul, is a chemistry major at Holy Cross. After months of research and development, they came up with a formula that allows the sanitizer to bond with skin cells until the skin exfoliates. That innovation allows the sanitizer to be effective for hours.

During their research, Paul came across a company in New Jersey, Smart Common Sense, with a similar chemical formula for hand sanitizer that had already gone through the FDA approval process. He reached out to the owners and now the two start-ups are collaborating on the sanitizer. They have just started manufacturing the product and are in the process of marketing and selling it. Information on the sanitizer, and the science behind it, can be found on the Wilox website. Same goes for the spraying service, which uses the same technology that makes the sanitizer long-lasting.

Mary Anne, a sophomore at Holy Cross, is helping with the hand sanitizer sales. She also inadvertently marketed the face shields to dentists.

She posted about the face shields on her Instagram account, and one of her friends who works in a dental office saw it and asked about the shields. After a post in Facebook group for dental workers in New Hampshire and a round of phone calls from the Wileys to area dentists and oral surgeons, the Wileys are in the process of making shields for dental offices across the state. These shields sit farther away from the face to allow space for loupes, the glasses dentists and others wear that have magnifying glasses on the lenses.

“I’m a member of Women in Business at Holy Cross and that has really taught me how to connect with people and how to move business ideas into action,” Mary Anne said.

Paul was similarly grateful to the Holy Cross biology department for letting him and Knox use its labs in developing the hand sanitizer, and the college’s business department for its entrepreneurial encouragement. Unfortunately, Paul and the rest of the Holy Cross Class of 2020 won’t get a normal graduation ceremony this spring – it will either be virtual or postponed to next spring – and the job Paul had lined up at a bank was also taken away due to the coronavirus. But, thanks to that Shaker Road woodworking class, the lathe, the pens, and an entrepreneurial spirit, Paul has a solid Plan B.

“I’m going to Wilox full time now,” he said.

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20)



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