How a federal executive order could aid the future of Pflugerville PPE manufacturing

The newly signed executive order is designed to help close loopholes in the Buy American Act that authorize companies to offshore production and jobs while still receiving domestic preferences, per federal documents. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
The newly signed executive order is designed to help close loopholes in the Buy American Act that authorize companies to offshore production and jobs while still receiving domestic preferences, per federal documents. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

The newly signed executive order is designed to help close loopholes in the Buy American Act that authorize companies to offshore production and jobs while still receiving domestic preferences, per federal documents. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

On Jan. 25, President Joe Biden signed an executive order into law to help invest and support America's manufacturing industry. For area manufacturers such as Pflugerville's Armbrust American, the order could not only enhance Central Texas' pull as a manufacturing hub, but could also bolster and financially support Armbrust American's mask production efforts.

The newly signed executive order is designed to help close loopholes in the Buy American Act that allow companies to relocate production efforts and jobs overseas while still receiving domestic preferences, per federal documents.

"The biggest change is the percentage, the definition of what is 'buy American,'" said Lloyd Armbrust, founder and CEO of Armbrust American. "Most masks, by the real definition of the actual law that's on the books, the Buy American Act, most masks are technically not made in America."

While many surgical masks are assembled in the United States, the vast majority of masks' materials are purchased and constructed overseas in countries such as China prior to being shipped and assembled domestically.

Biden's executive order builds off of former President Donald Trump's Buy American and Hire American executive order, signed into law in April 2017. Under Biden's version of the legislation, the order prioritizes American manufacturers who conduct a higher percentage of their operations and production domestically.


For American manufacturers, Armbrust said the pull toward offshoring production efforts comes down to cost-saving measures. Under the new order, increased investment and assistance for American manufacturers can help increase access to bank capital, making their production efforts more lucrative domestically, Armbrust said.

"The biggest thing that manufacturing needs in the United States is access to cheap capital or easy-to-get capital," he said. "If the government could fix that one problem, then you would see an incredible manufacturing boom in this country."

While his business specializes in mask production, Armbrust said the manufacturing industry has the potential to become the antidote for economic problems nationally. By embracing technological advancements while also supporting American-based initiatives, Armbrust said the new executive order can facilitate quality jobs while also alleviating financial strains pushing companies to offshore production.

"This income gap and this inequality that is driving the separation that we have and all this political instability—I really think if you have a really good place for people to go to work and get fulfilled with and learn and grow from, I think that manufacturing could be that for the United States," he said.

A similar kind of manufacturing uptick is already underway in the Central Texas region, spurred in part by the coronavirus pandemic. Armbrust American is one of several medical manufacturing operations to launch in Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto in 2020. In 2020, despite an economic recession due to the pandemic, manufacturing jobs in the Austin metro increased 8.3% between December 2019 and December 2020.

A driving factor in launching Armbrust American was the necessity for a direct pipeline of personal protective equipment produced in the United States and distributed to American businesses, hospital networks and individuals, he said. With Texas' geographic location in the center of the country and Central Texas' access to major highway corridors, Armbrust said his vision for the region is to become the epicenter of American personal protective equipment production.

"We need all of these independent companies to work together," he said. "If we could really focus on that, especially along the SH 130 corridor, I really think that could be something that would serve the country really well, and I think it would be something that would serve Texas."
By Kelsey Thompson
Kelsey Thompson is the reporter for Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto, where her work focuses on education, city government and community development. Originally from Upstate New York, Kelsey relocated to Austin after graduating from Syracuse University in May 2019.


MOST RECENT

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommended Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine for emergency authorization use Feb. 26. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recommended for emergency authorization use by FDA

This is the third COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved for emergency authorization use after those produced by pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology company Moderna.

Full-time staff would receive a $500 allotment for personal protective equipment, while part-time employees would be given a one-time $250 payment. (Screenshot courtesy Pflugerville ISD)
Pflugerville ISD approves one-time PPE, vaccine incentive stipends for staff

Full-time staff would receive a $500 allotment for personal protective equipment, while part-time employees would be given a one-time $250 payment.

A new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could help expand vaccination availability in Travis County, according to local health officials. (Courtesy Pexels)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine could mean additional supply, easier distribution rollout in Travis County

If approved, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a valuable weapon against the ongoing pandemic, according to local health officials.

Hutto Fire Rescue received the 2020 Achievement of Excellence in Fire Prevention Award. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hutto Fire Rescue recognized for excellence in fire prevention

Hutto Fire Rescue was awarded the 2020 Achievement of Excellence in Fire Prevention Award

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

Jo's Coffee opened a North Austin location in January. (Courtesy Chad Wadsworth)
Jo's Coffee opens in Central Austin; new restaurant coming to Georgetown Square and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Here is everything you need to know about Williamson County’s COVID-19 vaccine plan. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Here is everything you need to know about Williamson County’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

Here is a breakdown of what happened, how decisions were made and how vaccine distribution is moving forward in Williamson County.

The Pflugerville Community Development Corp. received the annual Economic Excellence award for 2020 by the Texas Economic Development Corp. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pflugerville Community Development Corp. awarded for economic excellence in seventh consecutive year

The Pflugerville Community Development Corp. was awarded for its economic excellence during the Texas Economic Development Corp.'s 2021 Legislative Conference.

Just over a week after Winter Storm Uri hit Texas and left millions without water, heat and power, members of Pflugerville City Council addressed the crisis Feb. 23 and the need for state accountability moving forward. (Screenshot courtesy city of Pflugerville)
'This didn't need to happen': Following Winter Storm Uri, Pflugerville seeks answers from state

Just over a week after Winter Storm Uri hit Texas and left millions without water, heat and power, members of Pflugerville City Council addressed the crisis Feb. 23 and the need for state accountability moving forward.

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic. (Courtesy Qygen, Wikimedia Commons)
Fry's Electronics calls it quits after nearly 36 years in business

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic.

A lone runner jogs on a snow-covered road in Austin. Transportation projects across the city were briefly paused due to Winter Storm Uri. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT: Texas power system was less than 5 minutes from collapse during winter storm

ERCOT's CEO offered details into what led to the massive blackouts that left millions of Texans in the cold last week.