A Northern Ireland manufacturer has had a business boost as sectors outside healthcare ramp up orders for its face shields.
elfast's Crossen Engineering, which was set up in 1978 primarily serving the automotive industry, is part of a business collaboration making face shields for medical workers.
Today it is creating more than 70,000 shields per week and has expanded its customer base in the process.
Managing director Paul Crossen told Business Telegraph that he has received orders to make and deliver visors to 23 Ikea stores.
And the company is working with economic development agency Invest NI to help expand into the rest of the UK.
"We've had beauty salons, hairdressers, workwear companies and a lot of our suppliers ordering the Hero Shield and that production line is being done by ourselves and Denroy Plastics," said Mr Crossen, who, along with his team, created another visor known as a Peak Shield for employees who wear caps as part of their uniform. "There are many companies doing face shields so we took this opportunity to be creative and come up with Peak Shield, which allows companies to get their own branding on it. I think you have to be creative at times like this, and while we always aspired to creating our own product, this has fast-tracked us into it.
"It's a whole different animal, creating something and marketing and selling it yourself. It's been difficult but very rewarding," he added.
At the beginning of lockdown Crossen Engineering, which makes plastic and metal parts for the healthcare sector and other industries, furloughed 75% of its staff. But the addition of face shields to its production lines has allowed it to bring back all of its 30 staff members and an additional 10 temporary staff.
"Initially at the beginning of lockdown we had one product line going for one of our medical clients, and we felt it was right to become part of the Hero Shield collaboration because we have the resources and the materials to donate, but now it has turned into a commercial venture. We've been able to employ more staff and take on another unit, spacing out employees."