Businesses challenged as imports slow down due to coronavirus

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Between the coronavirus and the flu, many are taking extra precaution by wearing face masks. The increase in demand can lead to production problems for companies that depend on face masks in their daily work.

The high demand for the masks and resulting supply shortage presents a challenge for companies like HM Dunn AeroSystems in Wichita where employees need them.

"A lot of our jobs are kind of dirty jobs, so people wear some kind of protection equipment," says HM Dunn Director of Human Resources Mona Martin.

The "dirty jobs" include sanding or using hand tools that send particles into the air.

"We don't want them to breathe that in," Martin says.

The problem, they say, is that suppliers are sold out.

"Everybody is experiencing that," Martin says. "It doesn't matter what industry you are in. Everybody has a shortage out there."

She says the company doesn't import form China, but does from the Asian continent.

"The manufacturers, they understand the situation, they are going to do their best to take care of customers," Martin says.

Other businesses more dependent directly on China suffer more as imports begin to slow down. However, experts say, and as the situation at HM Dunn reflects, it's not just Chinese imports that are slowing down. The entire market has taken a hit since the start of the coronavirus outbreak internationally.

Wichita State University Center for Economic Development and Business Research Director Jeremy Hill says China is the largest importer for Kansas, and the top commodity Kansas imports is transportation equipment.

Hill says companies like Spirit AeroSystems and other, smaller suppliers, will be most affected.