By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor
UPPER CUMBERLAND – Upper Cumberland companies are working to provide the resources that companies need to reopen across the country. From face masks and hand sanitizer to plexiglass, cardboard dividers and floor decals, anything a company needs to reopen can be purchased from a local company and shipped nationwide.
In need of low cost, reusable face masks? Cassemco, a Cookeville medical device manufacturer, has developed washable face masks that can bought for as little as $1 a mask. The masks are offered in three sizes, including small masks appropriate for children. These are not N-95 masks, but they are designed for comfortable industrial or personal use.
“We were just trying to find some way we could help with our equipment and help toward the relief,” said Cassemco President John Nipper. “We don’t know how long this is going to impact and we have manufacturing capability in a good location to help. Our hope was that we could do something outside of our normal products to help and this seemed the best fit.”
The public can purchase Cassemco’s masks online at etsy.com/shop/cassemco. Nipper said that the company has the ability to make about a million masks per week. Orders for over 1,000,000 masks per order may be offered at discounted pricing by contacting email@example.com.
Benco Sales, located in Crossville, is selling hand sanitizer in bulk quantities. For information on the sanitizer, contact them at 800-632-3626.
The Identity Group, located in Cookeville, is focused on helping businesses by offering freestanding sneeze guards, custom and stock floor decals, free printable templates for Coronavirus signage and more. A product catalogue of the Identity Group’s COVID-19 products is available here. Questions about available products can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cookeville millwork and fixture manufacturer Franklin Fixtures is working to help retailers, libraries, museums and restaurants reopen and fully use their spaces safely. Co-owner Lisa Uhrik said, “Like all small businesses, we’ve needed to find ways to both pivot our business and support our customers nationally.”
Franklin Fixtures has introduced online education workshops for small retailers to help them think through resources and strategies, along with a line of products it hopes will help. Custom sneeze guards and movable acrylic wall partitions are just a few of the products that Franklin hopes will help bookstores and small retail clients, as well as restaurants and universities, find ways to reopen in an era of pandemic uncertainty.
“Operating at 50% capacity will be unsustainable to coffee shops, restaurants and such,” says Uhrik. “And in order for our small bookstore and other retail clients to prosper, they’ll need ways to make it clear that they’re thinking about the safety of their shoppers.”
Uhrik has also provided small retailers with an online education series at the request of BookExpo/Unbound. “Supercharging: Safe Reopening Strategies” is free on Facebook along with four other live 30-minute workshops that extend into June.
“It’s really amazed us how popular these workshops have been,” says Uhrik, noting that instead of the dozens expected, there are now thousands who have viewed. “The response has been overwhelming nationally, and I’m hopeful that some of our friends in the Upper Cumberland can benefit as well. Though the message is for bookstores, the information works equally for other retailers.”
“Our secret of success is that we simply never give up,” said Uhrik. “There’s always a way, and we’re going to keep helping our small business customers find their paths.”