By Joe Holden

LEHIGH COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — Answering a call for help. A Lehigh County manufacturer has pivoted from music to medicine, all to help hospitals and first responders.

The digital guts of an electronic organ are turned out by high-tech machines eight hours each day, Monday through Friday.

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But nowadays, the work line at the Allen Organ headquarters only fires up to produce the intricate electronic nerves of medical equipment.

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Allen Organs says it took about a week to figure out obtaining a waiver from the state to do this type of work. Once that was accomplished, 35 employees returned.

“When I asked the employees whether they would be willing to come in to do this work, almost all of them agreed to do it and they’ve been here working for five weeks now on this,” said Steven Markowitz, president of Allen Organs.

The company went dark like thousands more when in mid-March, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered non-essential businesses to close.

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Unfinished organs await their circuit boards. Other instruments, in normal times, would be a day away from shipping off to Europe.

Markowitz said the pandemic has refocused the importance of domestic manufacturing.

“It’ll be more critical and less risky than going to Asia and other places for cheaper manufacturing,” he said.


It’s unknown when organ building may get back on track.

But for now, these workers who build instruments to help others make music, are only playing a different tune in their new focused line of work and they are proud to do it.

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“It feels good, it’s more than just a paycheck, it’s helping,” Scott Roxberry said.