Puritan Medical Products, which makes the swabs necessary for COVID testing, is expanding with a new factory in Tennessee.

It's been an amazing year for this family-owned company that's based in Guilford. One of their products, a simple swab, has become an invaluable part of the testing process for COVID-19. Puritan is one of only two companies in the world that makes the swabs, with the other based in Italy.

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Over the past year, the demand for the swabs has been so great, Puritan has expanded to include a total of three manufacturing plants in Maine. The Guilford facility was visited by President Donald Trump during his campaign, who congratulated the owners and employees on their invaluable contribution to the effort to get the pandemic under control.

And now, a year after the onset of the pandemic in Maine, an article in Bloomberg Businessweek has revealed that an expansion of the company into Tennessee is in the works. It's not clear, at this point, when the new facility will be opened or even which Tennessee town it will call home. But the ever-increasing demand for the nasopharyngeal swabs is creating the need for even more production.

Puritan Medical Products actually started in Saginaw, Michigan, as a company that manufactured mint-flavored toothpicks. When they ran into challenges getting the wood products they needed for the toothpicks, the company moved to Guilford, Maine and changed their named to Hardwood Products Company. In 1920, they started making the sticks to hold ice cream bars, and finally expanded into medical products a few years later. The Puritan brand was trademarked in the late 1940's. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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