SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s becoming a standard new addition for businesses all over the nation—plexiglass protection shields are in high demand as companies work to bring employees back to work.
“We designed this for the fitness industry so it will tuck right underneath a treadmill,” Creative Surfaces, Inc. Owner Jud Pins said.
When the COVID pandemic hit the U.S., Pins started thinking of ways his company could use its existing equipment to help.
“I knew there was going to be a need for personal protection so I came up with some standard designs,” Pins said.
His designs are now being put up in stores, salons, schools, office spaces, fitness centers and casinos all over the country.
“In the last six to seven weeks, we’ve shipped close to 3,000 sneeze guards, probably several hundred of the soap dispenser items,” Pins said.
“Customers came back to us and said hey we’re concerned about making sure our employees are safe,” James Gaspar with Interstate Office Products said.
Interstate Office Products has also been busy fielding phone calls from companies working to change their space before employees return.
“We’ve been changing the design and layout so we’re reorienting desks so there’s less face-to-face contact, we’ve been spreading out common spaces to make sure they’re safer,” Gaspar said.
A lot of times it means adding in barriers that may have been previously removed.
“We’ve seen some interest in new screens and stuff like that, glass stackers to go on top of cubicle panels, plastic screens on the front of desks,” Gaspar said. “It’s nice to have those really low four-foot panels where people can talk to each other, but its not necessarily the safest environment when there’s a pandemic going on.
But with so much new demand, now the problem is finding those products.
“There’s a big shortage of plexiglass around the country,” Pins said.
Pins says most of the plexiglass in the U.S. comes from China, which experienced some big production delays.
“We buy thousand and thousands of sheets a year of it so we have a good supply of this on a normal basis,” Pins said.
Now Pins and other suppliers are working to find other creative options for barriers.
“We’re trying a new product we’re using too called clear PVC…but you can’t find that product anymore either because of the increased demand,” Pins said.
Due to the shortages, Pins says many companies are raising prices but Creative Surfaces is staying competitive to help reach more businesses across the country.
“A simple one like this a little over $100 but if you have to put in a large office environment, it can add up to thousands and thousands of dollars in a tough financial time already for those businesses,” Pins said.
Before coming up with these new plexiglass designs, Creative Solutions was facing its own tough times after half its customers closed during the pandemic. Pins says the increased business from these new sneeze guards has helped him bring back his full production staff in Sioux Falls.