COVID-19 sent many businesses into tailspins and temporary closures.
But for a few, such as Denson Commercial Food Equipment in Yorkton, the pandemic opened up new opportunities.
“It’s been an interesting run,” said owner Chris Lech, who recalls driving to work after the announced closures of many businesses including restaurants that were a key market wondering “how do I break the news to everybody?”
But then he had an idea, purchasing “a couple of loads of toilet paper,” adding that “went in no flat.”
From there Lech said they looked into what other items they might handle to keep their staff working.
Soon they were handling hand sanitizer, face masks, face shields, and surface sanitizer.
“We just became an essential service to essential services,” said Lech. “We changed fundamentally what we do as a business every day.”
Lech said some items have been big for them.
“Face masks for sure have been huge,” he said, adding face shields have sold well to businesses from hairdressers to dentists.
So too has surface sanitizer. Lech noted that whether it’s a keyboard, or a baseball bat or glove after use right now it needs to be wiped down with a sanitizer.
Cindy Onofreychuk said the changes came quickly.
“We just sort of shifted gears overnight,” she said. “... We were able to stay open. We didn’t lay anyone off.”
It was a matter of need, added Onofreychuk, noting that while many restaurants were still doing take out “for the most part nobody was buying extra equipment.”
Adding new products however was something customers were happy about.
“People were very appreciative we could get product for them in a timely fashion,” said Onofreychuk.
How the changes will impact the business long term in an unknown.
“Long term planning is a fictitious wish right now,” said Lech, adding he can’t imagine how anyone can effectively plan for the future given the present situation.