For more than 18 years, Glenview-based Dimension Design has produced printed fabric structures for trade shows and special events, such as backdrops and hanging signs, as well as structures with graphics on them.
Now the company is shifting its efforts to the production of masks and gowns needed during the COVID-19 outbreak,
"There are very few things that our team is working on right now that isn't related to this," Marketing Manager Chris Higgerson said Sunday.
"Our sales team and basically our entire company has been repurposed," he added.
Higgerson said the company hopes to start production Monday and may use a facility in Las Vegas to supplement its efforts in the suburbs. The company has branches in Las Vegas and Jacksonville, Florida.
Dimension has the staff and necessary automated processes available in the shop to "pump these out relatively quickly," he said, emphasizing that the materials are not medically certified.
"But they are washable materials, so they can be thrown in the washing machine at night and they can take them to work with them the next day and reuse them continuously, as opposed to the disposable ones," he added.
The company already has heard from home care providers, nursing homes, medical facilities and police and fire departments, Higgerson said.
For those who cannot afford the items, the company has set up a GoFundMe page, gofundme.com/f/covid19-masks-and-gowns, where people can make online donations. As of Sunday, more than $6,500 had been donated.
The firm is ordering special antimicrobial materials for facilities that need those fabrics.
The prototypes for the masks are complete, including a pleated one with a pocket where a filter could fit. The company can start production of about 500 masks on Monday, Higgerson said.
As for the gowns, a prototype is under way. The firm also is manufacturing tents for indoor and outdoor use.
"We have already been in contact with at least 15 to 20 (clients) that are already in need and are requesting them as soon as we can possibly get them in their hands," Higgerson said.
He said the Elgin fire department, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, the Lake County jail and Cook County Veterans Affairs have placed orders.
Higgerson said, Sales staff members, he said, "have been cold-calling, literally walking into these facilities, utilizing their existing networks to connect with people that work in the health care fields for the last at least five, six days now," he said.
The activity makes up to some extent for the drop in the number events for which the company normally would be targeting its manufacturing efforts.