After losing about $1 million in sales over three days when COVID-19 started, we knew we needed to do something, and fast. We responded by pivoting and figuring out a way to not only preserve the health of the company, but to aid in the protection against the novel coronavirus. We got into the production of face shields for the health care sector and front-line workers.
Committed to not laying off any of our staff, we decided to stay the course and move to a work-sharing model set in place by the federal government. Lost wages were supplemented through the employment insurance program. This would allow some time to make better-informed decisions for the long-term health of the company based on more accurate information regarding the length of the economic shutdown.
Rather than burying our heads in the sand and hoping for a quick recovery, we decided to be proactive in finding new ways to generate revenue. It took a week to retool some of our equipment, but we figured out a way to produce PPE face shields. The next obstacle to overcome was acquiring the needed material. How that came about is another story in itself, but what matters is that materials were secured and ordered.
Once a prototype was developed, complete with adjustable Velcro straps to make the shield comfortable for people to wear, it was a matter of getting it into the hands of the right people in the province. Within 6 hours of making contact and delivering the prototype, the provincial government approved the design and put in an order for 40,000 shields.
“We are especially grateful for the efforts and guidance of Elizabeth Dubee and Amy Boone with NB Department of Strategic Procurement for helping us navigate through the process of getting these shields into the right hands. Their commitment to ‘NB First’ was so evident through this collaboration”, partner Scott Williams said.
We have been able to fulfill tens of thousands of shields for customers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and we received inquiries from Maine, Florida and New Jersey, which, next to New York, has been the state most devastated by the highly contagious respiratory illness.
Even during the 2008 recession, our company has never encountered a bigger business challenge than what the current pandemic has presented. With quick-thinking and determination, we demonstrated how a Maritime company is able to come through in a time of need, and we had the opportunity to give back to the service industry, an industry that has been the hardest hit during this crisis.