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Richards-Wilcox Rapid Response to Crisis

Wednesday, April 29, 2020  

Made in America Holds Strong for this Chicago Manufacturer

Transforming it’s metal fabricating factory into an Emergency Bed critical response manufacturer, Richards-Wilcox, a legacy company founded in 1880, is rising again to meet America’s challenges. Not unlike its response to the crisis of WWII, Richards-Wilcox has worked around the clock to focus all of their expertise and considerable manufacturing resources to respond to a nationwide Pandemic. Within 72 hours of Governor J. B. Pritzker’s Executive Order requiring the entire State of Illinois to “Shelter in Place,” and within 24 hours of New York’s announcement to turn the Javits Convention Center into a 1,000 bed hospital, Richards-Wilcox has transformed its 365,000 square foot metal fabricating factory into an Emergency Bed manufacturer.

Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order set the entire state of Illinois into a tailspin. This news sent families, businesses, entire cities into a panic. In Aurora, located in the Fox River Valley, long known for its manufacturing heritage, Richards-Wilcox’s President, Bob McMurtry, assembled the R-W team in the factory break-room, where just a week prior, he gave a Q2 company-wide “state of the factory” speech in order to unify and motivate the company and ending that meeting with his signature battle cry of “One Team” - “One Goal.” Now, the tides had changed, in the blink of an eye, and so much was at stake.

The R-W team - the factory workers, administrators, sales professionals, engineers and plant management all needed swift and powerful decisions. Over the weekend, the impact of this crisis on the world, the country, the community and on R-W, drove McMurtry to a decision - repurpose the factory to combat the spread of COVID-19. McMurtry worked tirelessly on an idea that would bring relief and comfort to many, as well as, provide the work needed to keep the Richards-Wilcox family working and contributing during this time of crisis. On Sunday, before the dawn, the R-W leadership team had rallied around the idea and history was set in motion. “I felt responsible”, says McMurtry, “and helpless all at the same time. How could I let our team down? But then it came to me. This wasn’t the first crisis that Richards-Wilcox brought its resources forward for the good of the Nation. During WWII, we pivoted the factory resources for the war effort.  During WWI, Richards-Wilcox was there. I realized we were faced with a similar situation now and that’s when I knew what we had to do.”  
In less than a week, the Richards-Wilcox team has worked around the clock to create Emergency Beds.  Richards-Wilcox has partnered with another local business, MOONLIGHT SLUMBER, Inc. to quickly do their part in this pandemic. By Monday morning the wheels were set in motion and calls to FEMA and the New York City Mayor’s office were made and help is on its way.

Richards-Wilcox emergency beds will be ready for shipment this week.

For more information, click on the following links:

Richards-Wilcox will be manufacturing emergency beds for shelter in place, overflow, quarantine, and other facilities. All inquiries can be sent to