After a pandemic-induced decline in business, IPS Metal Inc. had to lay off several full-time staff members, including installers and fabricators, to make up for the dip in sales. But then the sheet metal panel fabricator made a pivot to producing personal protective equipment (PPE), and business is once again booming. 

As reported by the Daily Commercial News

With some brainstorming, taking into account the threat of COVID-19 spread, its impact on businesses, paired with their internal resources and know-how, Davis and IPS owner Cameron Smith came up with a design for sneeze guards.

The barriers, which have become a mainstay in all businesses as a protection device against the spread of COVID-19, are made of polycarbonate material that was on hand at IPS. The material has since been constructed into shields to supply businesses that are reopening under government safety regulations.

With demand high and supply limited due to the fluidity of the current health crisis, Davis and Smith are quickly regaining ground.

Whereas IPS Metal Inc.'s initial sheet metal clients before were commercial and industrial projects in southwestern Ontario, the sheet metal fabricator is now working with dental and medical offices, retail stores with counters, salons, accountants, insurance offices and other customer service spaces to install and supply PPE.

Reported costs have been $150 for the smallest job to $2,500 for the largest job. More from the the Daily Commercial News: 

One of their grateful clients is A&A Exhaust Systems in Hamilton, Ont. an exhaust and emissions solutions provider. They recently had a 36-inch-by-32-inch barrier with mounting brackets installed, a size IPS had in stock and could quickly provide.

“We have a parts display (area) that is essential for some sales and services. Keeping everyone safe during transactions is imperative. The barriers allow us to interact and service our customers. A more normal transaction takes place and safety isn’t compromised,” said A&A office manager Darlene Alford, adding, “we very much appreciated their efforts and products to solve a large problem.”

As provincial and municipal leaders work with health officials to reboot the economy by getting people back to work and play while adhering to healthy practices, IPS is keeping pace by filling the need for guards in both essential and non-essential businesses.

With an uptick in business from PPE installations, IPS has been able to hire some of their full-time staff back. As more businesses get PPE in place, the hope is that sheet metal fabrication operations and orders will get back to "normal." 

“We are lucky, very lucky to be busy and working during this time," said Justin Davis, IPS Metal Inc. general manager, in a comment to the Daily Commercial News. "Hopefully the faster non-essential business gets the proper safety measures in place as per the government guidelines everything can get closer to normal again. We are just glad we can be a small part of the big picture for our local business. It’s a good feeling knowing you’re making a difference.”

Read more coverage on COVID-19 in the sheet metal industry