N95 masks

What happens when you’re able to spot a deadly pandemic, but the playbook for responding to it is a century old? 

For Will Lange, president and general manager of Honeywell’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) division and a Fisher alumnus, the answer meant acting quickly and decisively in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  

“In mid-January, we saw a significant increase in demand for our PPE products in China — more than we’d ever seen,” says Lange (BSBA ’00). “That signaled to us this was going to be different than anything we’d faced in the past with SARS or H1N1, and that we needed to move quickly with our investment plans.” 

Will Lange
Will Lange (BSBA '00)

At Honeywell, Lange leads more than 7,000 employees who manufacture safety gear such as hard hats, protective eyewear, gloves, footwear, masks and respirators. As COVID-19 began to spread internationally, Lange led Honeywell’s efforts to set up four new PPE manufacturing facilities around the world, including two in the U.S. A factory that produces eyewear and face shields in Smithfield, Rhode Island, was expanded in just 35 days to boost production of N95 masks. Likewise, an aerospace facility in Phoenix was adapted to create the masks in just 45 days.  

“It takes nine months to set up a new factory,” he says. “I was skeptical that we could do it so quickly. But it requires the right focus and the right people, and we had that. What’s inspiring about this whole thing is being a part of the great work being done by so many people who are focused on one very important goal -- bringing people home safely every day.” 

While nothing could have prepared Lange for the disruption and global impact of COVID-19, he credits his business experience and fundamentals honed at Fisher for helping him identify and respond to a trend that, just months ago, was developing on the other side of the world. 

Honeywell employee making N95 masks
A Honeywell employee at the company's
Smithfield, Rhode Island, factory produces
N95 masks.

“Absolutely, my previous experiences, courses and case studies from college were helpful in seeing the trend,” Lange says. “But once we saw that trend, we had to make some tough decisions. We could have easily said that N95 masks were not a part of our core product line and could have passed; but we made the strategic decision that we wanted to be in this area for a long time. I’m confident that we made the right choice and that we’ll be successful over the long term.” 

No stranger to great teamwork -- Lange was a member of Ohio State men’s lacrosse team when the Buckeyes topped Notre Dame for a conference championship in 1999 -- he has seen the power of a shared purpose during Honeywell’s work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s been great to see all of our teams really understanding that we are serving a greater good and fulfilling a huge need in the global marketplace,” he says. “We’re doing our best every day to help as many people as possible.” 

Together with his wife, Nicole (BA ’00), whom he met on his first day of their freshman year as Buckeyes, and his daughter, Alexa, 11, and son, Max 7, Lange says he’s looking forward to returning to Ohio State for various events -- when he has time and when it’s safe to do so. 

“It’s been super tiring and a little bit crazy from time to time over these last few months, but it’s special to be a part of a once-in-a-lifetime situation and to be in a position to affect positive change,” he says. 

Photos courtesy of Honeywell

It’s been great to see all of our teams really understanding that we are serving a greater good and fulfilling a huge need in the global marketplace.

Will Lange (BSBA '00)President and General Manager, Personal Protective Equipment,