Coronavirus: Hamilton-area business sees spike in sales after shifting to make sneeze guards

The 10,000-square-foot aluminum bunker in a Mount Hope backyard doesn’t look that impressive. Until COVID-19 hit, cranking out aquariums and display cases inside the structure provided for an OK living.

But the pandemic has meant a new surge in business.

“I got three or four requests for sneeze guards overnight and it was like boom,” said Blaine Lantz, the owner of Toronto Plastic.

For Lantz, he said it wasn’t an easy transition from fish tanks to life-saving equipment. There were missteps like plastics that would crack and send him back to the drawing board.

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But following the shutdown of businesses in Ontario because of the coronavirus, the orders kept coming.

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COVID-19 was changing the way the world was doing business. Ontario had to find a way to reopen and reopen safely. Overnight sneeze guards started popping up in restaurants, condos and hotel lobbies.

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The orders came from all over the province and as Lantz’s travel increased so did his bank account.

“The nuclear power plants, they’re the farthest ones away but they also have the deepest pockets. It’s worth the trip out there,” he said.

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Lantz said production jumped 300 per cent since his business model changed to sneeze guards. He said he’s happy about his success but not so happy about a few haters on Instagram.

“Some people, just a couple, are saying you’re benefitting from this,” Lantz said.

But he has also designed COVID-19 protection for medical staff — an intubation chamber that fits over the head of the patient.

“When they’re operating on COVID patients, they put it on their head so the doctors can operate on them and put their arms through and not be exposed to COVID,” said Blaine’s ex-wife, Alexandre Lantz, who helps with the business.

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His biggest compliments come from his eight-year-old daughter.

“He’s a really good dad and I’m proud of him,” said Mattibelle Lantz.

There’s still design work ahead. The shields work well protecting against coughing and sneezing, but there are other issues.

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“The only problem is that people can’t hear that well. So everyone’s like, ‘What, what,” said Blaine.

Meanwhile, he said he isn’t sure what’s next but he just completed separation shields for inside taxi cabs. Blaine said he does know what he’s not interested in producing anymore.

“We’re just not doing fish tanks. We’re done with fish tanks,” he said.

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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