'It all came so quick': Family-owned Saskatoon plexiglass business working to meet pandemic demand
SASKATOON -- While some businesses and industries have experienced tumultuous times during the pandemic; for the plexiglass business — things have been pretty clear-cut.
Plexiglass shields are an increasingly common sight in many public places since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Todd Hudson who runs WD Plastics in Saskatoon says business surged in March then levelled off, but recently there’s been another upswing.
“Now it’s more custom work. Business with the health region has increased as well as city police service,” Toddy Hudson told CTV News.
When the reality of COVID-19 began to settle in, Hudson and his staff were scrambling to figure out what was needed.
“It was learn-as-you-go. It all came so quick. But our design has improved over the past few months with time. They’re a little more stable and more durable.”
The sheets start at about $160 for a small barrier and can go up to $300 for a custom guard.
Hudson says based on what he’s hearing from some customers, many of the plexiglass barriers being installed may outlast the pandemic.
“The majority say it’s the new normal and plan on keeping them, but a few say, once they get a chance, they’ll get rid of them,” Hudson said.
At the start of the pandemic, Hudson says he planned ahead and ordered more of the acrylic sheets from his out-of-province supplier because he knew the demand would be huge and he wanted to be ready and do his part to keep people safe.
“We had phone calls and probably 50-60 emails a day for myself and my right-hand man Keith. We were working 6 in the morning to 11 at night, seven days a week. It was just crazy.”
Hudson says he’s not complaining and realizes that many businesses are struggling and doesn’t want to diminish that difficult reality.
When SaskTel Centre — a WD Plastics client — shut down abruptly in March, staff quickly began working on plans that would allow the facility to eventually reopen safely.
Currently, SaskTel Centre is only hosting games for the Saskatoon Contacts and Stars, with some groups using the ice for practices.
With only 150 people allowed in the stands, the facility only has one concession operating.
Plexiglass barriers now cover the entire frontage of the counter area with spaces large enough to pass food through.
The venue's communications manager Cheri Hamilton says while it's not known when all concessions, food stands and bars will up and running in the building — but the facility will have to budget for the extra expense of installing plexiglass.
“Our entire project which is the bars and concessions on the main concourse would be about $7000 to $8000,” Hamilton told CTV News.
She’s hopeful that fans will be allowed back in January with the tentative start of the WHL planned for that time and they are going to be ready when that happens.
“We have told Todd at WD Plastics our requirements and we had him come and measure up all the spaces so that we are ready to go when we are able to.”