San Diego defense contractor to make thousands of masks

Posted at 5:08 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 20:57:58-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- One of San Diego's biggest defense contractors is taking a unique approach to stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Cubic Corp. builds communication and training systems for the military and its allies, and also fare payment systems for mass transit systems across the globe.

The contractor operates a maquiladora in Tijuana, where seamstresses sew laser detection devices onto straps that soldiers wear when they train for combat. Each of those devices sells for about $2,000.

Instead, many of those seamstresses are now using those same hands to make an item that costs less than $4 - protective masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The company is capable of creating 6,000 of these masks per day if it staffs up.

Chief executive Brad Feldmann says the masks are not medical grade, but will help stop someone who is infected with the virus from spreading it.

"This was more to serve society than it was some money-making new business," Feldmann said.

Feldmann says the first order of business is to create enough masks for its 6,200 employees around the world, about 2,000 of which are based at its headquarters in Kearny Mesa. The company expects to have them distributed by the end of next week. He added that most of Cubic's workers are working from home, but those who must go out in public are issued much more secure protective gear.

Feldmann says it is too early to know if the masks will be sold or distributed publicly, but he said the White House and military are aware they are being made. Additionally, Cubic could make the masks available to its transit system customers.

The company continues to do some work for San Diego's Metropolitan Transit System.