A wooden accessories manufacturer has switched its production to making antiviral plastic protective screens and visors to protect frontline workers, such as hospital staff, from the novel coronavirus.
Like several other Estonian companies, KOOR wood has spotted a hole in the market for products which can fight the coronavirus and, at the same time, help companies facing a downturn in sales from the ensuing economic crisis arising from the emergency situation.
Typically, the company specializes in creating wooden accessories, such as smartphone and tablet covers, and corporate gifts, but after repurposing some equipment, the company is now making plastic visors, masks and screens which protect against droplet spread, which is how COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person.
The Tallinn-based company is currently making three different products — screens for tabletops and counters for stores to separate customers and sellers, a visor that fits onto a baseball cap visors and masks for medical professionals.
KOOR wood's brand manager Aleksander Tomas Vassiljev told ERR News the company has been working around the clock after switching production two weeks ago. So far, they have supplied equipment to several hospitals, Eesti Post's stores and completed an order for the prison service for both prisoners and guards.
"There is quite a bit of interest," he said. "What does surprise me is that people really do call around the clock."
Currently, the company has eight staff members, but due to the increased demand, Vassiljev said they will hire several more people in the coming weeks.
The company has enough materials to produce approximately 30,000 baseball cap screens and around 20,000 medical face screens, but after that, they will run into problems caused by the global supply chain as many plastic manufacturers have stopped production.
But until then, the company will keep operating. So far, they have sold around 400 tabletop screens and around 2,000 masks for medical staff and baseball cap visors across Estonia.
The baseball cap visor, pictured above, arose after a friend of Vassiljev's contacted him saying the caps he had ordered to sell as souvenirs this summer would probably go unsold — so could they collaborate? After a week of creating prototypes and testing them with customer service and courier workers, the designs went on sale.
Vassiljev told ERR he had not been surprised at the demand for personal protective equipment as he had previously spotted the gap in the market. But, right now, the company's main focus is getting the word out to the Estonian market and to as many hospitals and private clinics as possible.
"Our first priority is to supply all of the hospitals who feel that they need to get screens," he said. "We want to spread the word around to companies that they can actually get these things in Estonia because the number one feedback [we get] after people find us is, 'Wow — we can't believe we can get protective equipment in Estonia.'"
Editor: Helen Wright