Firms making products to fight COVID-19 include VenuesNow printer

COVID-19 bans on gatherings and shelter-in-place orders have affected the livelihood of not only musicians but also a myriad of industry professionals and businesses whose work intersects with live events. One such company is Fresno, Calif.-based commercial printer Dumont Printing, which is helping to make up for the loss of event-related business by repurposing its equipment to make medical face shields for the health care industry.

With events on hold, Dumont Printing owner Susan Moore estimates the company is “probably down to 25%” of what it was printing, including continuing to print some newsletters and social distancing graphics, along with VenuesNow and Pollstar magazines.

Dumont Printing owner Susan Moore holds one of the company’s medical face shields. “We want to reach out and try and help as many people as we can,” she said. (Daniel Brannick)

“We’re trying to pivot!” Moore said. “A friend of mine at Calagaz Printing in Mobile, Ala., called, saying he had a new challenge for me. He felt like I could step up to it because I had enough equipment. And he had the idea of making face shields and how it had given his empty print shop a purpose while helping the health care industry and keeping his staff employed.”

Dumont immediately started figuring out how to repurpose its equipment and source raw materials, which Moore called the toughest challenge. She said Dumont converted some of its machinery that was used for gluing processes on, for example, a presentation folder and is using printing equipment for die-cutting the face shield’s plastic.

The company got some sample materials March 27 and started shipping out the first batch of face shields in less than a week.

“Everything we do is custom,” Moore said. “So this is new for a lot of employees. We don’t make widgets, so we’re learning to make face shields as fast as possible.”

“We’re in full swing production now. We have shifts of people working on these. We are moving along as fast as we can. We’re trying to keep up with all of the orders.”

When COVID-19 and the ban on events started affecting Dumont’s business, Moore was forced to lay off seven employees, but the company’s new direction has allowed her to bring back one of the staff members. She said she hoped in the next few weeks that Dumont could bring back the other six employees.

Dumont is producing face shields for hospitals, health care professionals, firefighters, police departments, some in-home care and some rest homes, as well as some small doctor’s offices, and hardware stores for cashiers. Orders range from smaller community orders of 25-100 to orders from hospitals as large as 20,000 pieces.

The company started producing face shields for the local community in Fresno and has branched out to the surrounding areas, as well as fulfilling a few orders from Southern California, while Calagaz Printing is providing face shields for those in Alabama and Louisiana — which Moore calls “a true partnership between the South and West.”

“This is so emotional to us, I mean we’re so tied to the community and the people in the community,” Moore said. “This is a worldwide problem, but we’ve never been involved in anything that’s been so wide reaching. … And now we’re basically spreading out statewide. A lot of our hospitals have materials coming in; we’re heading south and north. We have a wide variety of people across the state that we do business with. We want to reach out and try and help as many people as we can.”

This story originally ran on Pollstar.com.