Coronavirus: San Jose company pivots to new challenge of producing protective equipment for healthcare workers

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- In just a matter of days, a leading Silicon Valley visual communications company has gone from building eye-popping installations for major corporations to producing valuable pieces of personal protective equipment to help healthcare professionals fighting COVID-19 on the front lines.

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"Our goal is to help the local community with procuring some of the critical items that are currently incredibly difficult to acquire, while maintaining a core level of employment for our staff," said Dave Bales, Image Options chief executive officer. "We have an incredibly talented team that is used to engineering complex projects combined with a large inventory of raw materials."
Prior to the pandemic, the company's fabrication centers in San Jose and Orange County mainly produced large format prints, dimensional fabrication, and experiential installations for office environments and trade shows.

"I've got friends whose daughters are nurses and they can't get the equipment they need," said Ron Jennings, Image Options vice president of fabrication. "Knowing that these are going out in the medical community, protecting our frontline workers, it's a great feeling."

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Demand for PPE has skyrocketed due to shortages across the county. The company has already received orders for more than 2-million face shields since they began offering them for sale last month.

"I'm glad that my team asked if I could help out with this cause I feel like I'm giving back to the people that helping us out the most," said Danielle Deurloo, who normally works as an installation coordinator, but spent time Monday afternoon assembling face shields.

Image Options recently unveiled a new checkout shield to help protect cashiers at grocery and retail stores, as well as quick-service restaurants. They're also capable of making other critical emergency products such as pop-up stations, intake centers, and emergency beds for hospitals.

"It's really changed my life," said Joe Lewis, who works as a builder for the company. "I get to sleep better at night knowing that I'm doing something better for the community and the world."

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The production staff was originally laid off when the Bay Area's shelter-in-place order went into effect but was called back within a week and a half when company executives realized they could help by producing PPE.

"We're doing stuff to help people and that gives us that sense of we're fighting back," said David Payne, Image Options president. "We're battling this thing. We're not just ducking and covering."

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