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Plexiglass, plastics in high demand during pandemic

Business is booming for area plastics manufacturers producing products to combat the coronavirus pandemic, and sales would likely be even higher if materials were easier to find.

With restaurants and schools trying to operate in the “new normal,” demand is high for items like plexiglass. The transparent thermoplastic is a popular choice to create barriers between people in public spaces.

Allied Plastics on South Avenue made intubation boxes early in the pandemic for the University of Toledo Medical Center — the former Medical College of Ohio — as well as hospitals in the ProMedica and Mercy Health systems. Recently, owner Jeff Hood said orders are coming in from hair and nail salons, restaurants, and schools.

Mr. Hood said he has doubled or tripled his business during the pandemic.

“It’s been nonstop,” Mr. Hood said. “We’re working overtime every week. When this started in March, we went 28 weeks straight without a day off. The guys take Sundays off, but I’m usually working. We’ve seen probably a 200 percent increase in sales.”

The increased work led Mr. Hood to hire extra workers, some of whom will become permanent.

He said the pandemic is responsible for 85 percent of his current business. Mr. Hood believes demand will continue to rise as more schools, especially larger districts like Toledo Public, open up at some point this academic year.

Maumee Valley Country Day School is staggering their opening and purchased a large quantity of plexiglass dividers from Allied.

“It’s meant to give an extra layer of protection,” Head of School Lynn Casto said. “All students will be masked and we want to control the vapor droplets. Those barriers prevent them from transmitting from one student to the next.”

Ms. Casto said the barriers will be placed between students when six feet of distance cannot be maintained, such as students playing math games or a student reading with a teacher.

“The way they built it is it’s a clear sheet so there’s no obtrusive borders,” Ms. Casto said. “You can create that classroom environment and allow kids to work together and that’s important to be able to collaborate with your peers.”

Supply chains in many industries have been disrupted, and Mr. Hood said his business experienced issues earlier this year. He purchased a high volume of materials at the beginning of the pandemic to prepare.

“It was tough to get acrylic at first,” Mr. Hood said. “Everything went so fast off the shelves. Some things are still out until December. It’s very unusual to have to wait that long for plastic. We’ve never had that problem before. If you want to buy in quantity, there’s a long wait.”

Tim Hood owns Plastics Unlimited in Toledo. He runs a smaller shop, but supplied the Toledo Lucas County Public Library and Temperance Animal Hospital with plexiglass dividers, and just received an order from a school.

He is also seeing delays in shipments.

“It’s been pretty busy here, but the problem is you can’t get the material,” Mr. Hood said. “It’s 14 to 18 weeks out. I’ve never seen that. It’s in high demand right now and it’s not going to change.”

Tim Hood is the nephew of Jeff Hood, but their businesses are separate.

Matt Antoine, president of Mallory Pattern Works in Toledo, said his business has not made pandemic-specific products, but it still having problems finding materials.

“A lot of our customers had to shut down for a month and a half when the pandemic first started and got behind on inventory,” Mr. Antoine said. “They’re trying to play catch up and ordering new tooling.”

Jeff Hood said it feels good to make products designed to keep people safe from a deadly virus, but also feels for the businesses experiencing hardship.

“You look at all the people who have been hurt by this and the companies that basically shut down or went out of business for months and it’s terrible,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate, but others have been devastated. And I don’t know if I see an end to it.”


Posted By: The Blade on August 29, 2020.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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