Glove Genius

by Richard Mitchell
Centered around progressive fabric technology, Performance Fabrics is out to protect line worker’s hands, arms, and bodies while reducing corporate costs.
Hand injuries resulting from cut wounds cost money and time. It’s estimated that one single laceration can cost more than $3,000 in medical care, worker’s compensation, and loss in productivity. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has estimated U.S. annual costs for hand cuts and lacerations total more than $300 million. With those kinds of numbers it is vital processors and packers equip their line workers with the highest-quality gloves. Enter Grand Rapids, MI-based Performance Fabrics Inc. (PFI).
PFI was founded in August of 2003 by Steve VanErmen and Brent Lohrmann, two ex-management consultants who saw an opportunity to capitalize on new fabric technology — SuperFabric®. SuperFabric® is a cut-and-puncture fabric that is twice as cut resistant as most aramid fabrics, more than three times as puncture-resistant as leather, and is the core of the HexArmor™ line of protection materials offered by PFI.
“The objective is to have HexArmor™ products revolutionize the safety industry,” explains VanErmen. “It is an industry that has lacked innovation over the last forty years. PFI licensed this technology (SuperFabric®) that is better than anything on the market in providing cut resistance and, more importantly, puncture resistance, without sacrificing dexterity. Our customers use it as a replacement for Kevlar, Spectra, leather, and chain mail products.  In fact, one of our poultry processors has replaced all of their chain mail with our apron product. Also, because until now the only cut and puncture-resistant apron solution was heavy and expensive chain mail, some customers have literally gone without proper protection. Now they are implementing our aprons because they are light, provide the protection they need and are cost effective.”
Technology backs claims
HexArmor™ products feature technology that backs-up VanErmen’s claims. SuperFabric is constructed with something analogous to medieval body armor on a micro scale — food-safe, polymer composite micro-guard plates that are closely packed and integrated to provide both cut and puncture resistance in a flexible fabric. Kevlar and Spectra offer some degree of resistance in a sleeve or glove; however, their open weave provides zero puncture resistance. HexArmor™ products offer anywhere between two-and-a-half and 10 times the cut resistance of Kevlar. HexArmor™ gloves also offer significant puncture resistance from knives, needles, and other sharp objects.
“One of our customers uses HexArmor™ to prevent punctures from boning knives when they are trimming chickens,” relays VanErmen. “Their problem was that they were wearing chain, and it was so heavy and cold that it caused fatigue, ergonomic problems, and didn’t stop the punctures as the tips of the knives would go well into the gaps in the chain mail. We are able to give them a product that is one-fifth the cost, one-sixth the weight, and eliminates the kind of punctures they got with chain mail or spectra.”
A proud tradition
PFI takes pride in its relationship with its customers as they utilize SuperFabric® to create custom HexArmor™ solutions for individual needs. PFI also has an extensive Web site ( that details the technology behind SuperFabric® as well as offering PFI’s complete line of safety wear.
Presently, PFI is focused on increasing distribution throughout the North and South American markets. In the packing and processing markets, PFI has partnered with Norcross, GA-based Volk Enterprises to sell and distribute HexArmor™ products. NP
For more information, call (616) 459-4144 or e-mail