Rather than sit home feeling helpless, local Realtor Bob McCranie decided he could help by making face masks for those who need them

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer

Retail workers, a postal employee, a window installation company, workers at a facility for people who have suffered brain injuries and strokes have all asked Bob McCranie for his homemade face masks.

Would surgical masks be safer? McCranie is the first to admit they would. But the folks asking for his homemade masks weren’t able to get professionally made masks.

So, when McCranie posted on Facebook that he was going to make masks, the requests started pouring in.

McCranie is the owner and founder of Texas Pride Realty Group. He started the company in 2009; he is based in Carrollton and does business in Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Collin counties as well as in Rockwall and in Houston. He said that doing business in all the different counties has never been much of a challenge until now, with each county issuing different “Stay Home” rules in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texas Pride Realty’s Dallas agents must stay home, because Dallas County rules apply to those who live in the county. But his Collin County agents can show property in Dallas County. And Tarrant County rules, which are fairly lax, don’t apply to much stricter city of Fort Worth “Y’all

Stay Home” rules.

So, what’s McCranie doing?

“We’re still trying to show houses virtually,” he said. “And I’m doing some messaging about upcoming property tax evaluations.”

But like most business, things have slowed down at Texas Pride Realty. So McCranie said when he saw a report on a mother/daughter team making masks he decided to do likewise. And since he took home economics in seventh grade, and had just bought himself a new one for his birthday, it seemed like the perfect way to help out.

“I’m not a great seamstress,” McCranie admitted. But he’s really much better than he’s giving himself credit for.

McCranie pulled out some old dress shirts that he cut into pieces. Then he went shopping for elastic, which he found is as readily available as toilet paper. So, he looked for a substitute and found pony tail ties would work to craft the ear pieces.

Then he sat down at the sewing machine and produced his first few masks. And then he threw out the first and second ones he made and adjusted his pattern so that the fabric would be pleated more tightly around the ear.

When he had face masks that satisfied him, McCranie put the finished product in plastic bags on his doorstep and invited people on Facebook who needed them to come get them.

So far, he’s delivered 72 face masks and has orders for 453 more.

To help out, lots of people have donated fabric for the masks. So fabric is something he doesn’t need now, but if anyone has a massive amount of elastic, that might help.

After the H1N1 flu epidemic, the National Institute of Health published a study comparing wearing homemade face masks to wearing surgical face masks to wearing no face masks.

The first problem the study found was fit, which varied among masks studied. So McCranie spent significant time working on the design for his

Next, the study looked at the number of microorganisms isolated from coughs, and compared homemade masks to no mask using several air sampling techniques and to surgical masks. Surgical masks caught three time the number of droplets, but homemade masks worked much better than no protection.

McCranie said he’s not proposing these be used in medical settings, but the note from the brain injury and stroke facility said they needed masks “and we can’t get them.” And McCranie’s masks are certainly better than no mask.

McCranie continues to get requests and is filling orders for five DART workers. One order is for 20 masks for court workers, and he’s sent some to Uber drivers. He said he’s even delivered some to people in the Carrollton and Plano area and a few to people who are immuno-compromised and shouldn’t be out.

Each night, McCranie said he can produce 25 masks. He has a goal of making 1,000, which means he has his work cut out for him. But why is he so dedicated to getting his masks out?

During the AIDS crisis, everyone felt a little helpless. McCranie’s face masks might just save a few lives, and, he said, “I didn’t want to just sit here and do nothing.”