Siblings’ biz helps create comfortable face shields

A Farragut owner of a neighboring business has stepped up and is making more comfortable face shields in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Farragut resident Lawrence Segrest, CEO, and his sister, Elizabeth Johnson, are co-owners of GreenLeaf Industries, 310 Bussell Ferry Road in Lenoir City, who launched the new face shields in April.

They are “far more comfortable and durable than commonly used cloth face masks,” stated Lawrence’s wife, Lisa Segrest, marketing official for GreenLeaf Industries.

GreenLeaf Industries, a plastic injection molding business, was started in 1999 by Lawrence and his father, Earle Segrest, who has since retired from the company.

Lawrence brought Johnson on board as the COO in 2014.

The factory originally was located at the old K-25 site-turned industrial park in Oak Ridge, but moved to Lenoir City in 2003, Lisa stated in an e-mail.

“Initially, GreenLeaf produced components for the automotive industry,” she further stated. “Although about 75 percent of GreenLeaf’s customers remain in the automotive industry, the company has since branched out into consumer products.

“Additionally, in April 2019 GreenLeaf launched its first independent product, PegPro, a premium plastic pegboard hook that locks into place,” Lisa added.

“With the coronavirus ravaging the country, the automotive industry shut down in March 2020. Forced to lay off its 25 employees when orders from its automotive customers ground to a halt, the brother-and-sister team at Greenleaf quickly shifted gears.”

“We could’ve easily sat around and waited for the government to bail us out, but that’s not us,” Lawrence stated in the e-mail. “We’re a family here at GreenLeaf and we care about our employees. Getting (them) back to work is where our heart is.”

So, the Segrets put their heads together and, seeing a critical need for protective gear, they used their 20-plus years of engineering experience to develop a “high-quality face shield to keep workers in the front lines and the public at large safe,” Lisa stated.

“We designed our face shield with the user in mind,” Lawrence stated. “Surgical masks and M-95-style masks are uncomfortable and difficult to wear for long periods of time. They chafe, irritate the skin and even cause shortness of breath.

“We wanted to make a product that anyone — child or adult — could wear with ease,” he added.

“Users have free range of head motion and won’t experience the headaches, dizziness or claustrophobia that results from traditional face masks,” Johnson stated in an e-mail.

“Our lightweight face shields are adjustable, reusable and extremely comfortable.

“They also prevent people from unconsciously touching their face while wearing them,” she added. “Our product line can’t be beat for people who need to wear them for hours at a time.”

Although GreenLeaf initially targeted the healthcare industry for its face shields, Lisa stated it also has seen a steady sales increase from residents and businesses wanting to protect the workforce as it returns from Gov. Bill Lee’s Safe at Home order.

“We are extremely proud of our product and how it’s designed to help anyone,” Lawrence said. “We want to get the word out that whether you need one to go to work or to the grocery store, these shields are for you.”

For Johnson, making the face shields is not just about business, it’s about community service.

“Ordering masks from us keeps people right here in the local area employed,” she stated. “There is no better time than the present to buy American. We’re all in this together.”

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