Fusion Products meets high demand for personal protection shields

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Fusion Products of Guttenberg created the personal protection shield that wraps around the circulation desk at the Guttenberg Public Library. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

A worldwide pandemic has caused many of us to pause, reflect, recreate and reinvent the way we live our personal lives. A volatile economy has caused business owners across the globe to get creative and find ways to market the pandemic or close their doors.  Fusion Products, a division of SignX Corporation, located in the Guttenberg Industrial Park at 111 North Hill Drive, has stepped forward to meet the ever-demanding pressures of doing business in these uncommon times. 

Fusion President Mike Landwehr and his wife, Vice-President Brenda Moser Landwehr, and Joe Tartaron, Head of Product Design and Engineering at Fusion Products, have found a niche allowing them to remain stable in the business sector. Mike Landwehr told The Press, "Production and distribution of our regular products are way down – by almost 70 percent. Everything came to a screeching halt."

Personal Protection Shields

The Fusion team collectively came up with an idea to utilize their existing business model and make it work for the current situation. "When the pandemic hit we looked at all the flimsy personal protection shields that were being marketed to the public. They were awful," said the company president. "We took our foundation designs and dropped a thicker acrylic into the frame and created a new product."

Some of the sturdy, sleek designs can be found throughout our local community. "The new design makes a statement. We sold some of the shields to Ace Hardware in Texas. The company told us they look more professional." He noted, "Some businesses have ordered their shields with an optional header so advertisers can swap out small marketing posters, and have the advertisers pay for the shield itself." 

The innovative idea has kept Fusion Products busy. "On the sales side we are making enough of the shields to keep us on track.  Our convenience and grocery store orders are still going strong. The protective shield has filled the gap in our other markets," he said. 

Special thanks

The executive team and employees of Fusion Products would like to thank the local business community for their support.  "We have sold shields to Brown’s Sales & Leasing; Dave Brown Classic Rides; Fidelity Bank (seven branches); Kuempel Hardware; FreedomBank (five branches); Guttenberg Public Library; Guttenberg City Hall; Unlimited Services; Casino Queen (over 30 between the casino and buffet); Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative; Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinic (over 20 between Guttenberg, Garnavillo and Edgewood)," he said with gratitude. "Nationally, we’ve recently started supplying them to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C." 

Desktop shields for students

One of the manufacturer's new product lines is being marketed to schools throughout Iowa and Wisconsin. "We created a workspace divider that can be used on a desktop. We were lucky and reached out to Darla Kelchen, Executive Director at Clayton County Development Group, and were able to obtain a complete e-mail list for every school in Iowa.  My sister-in-law works in the Green Bay, Wis., school district and was able to give us an e-mail list of Wisconsin schools." He explained, "The desktop shield is made up of the same acrylic we use in our other products but not quite as thick in order to bring down costs."

Helping area businesses

The specialized products have helped many local businesses reopen after mandated closures. Landwehr gave an example, "We created specialized shields for the local casino and buffet, which enabled them to open up sooner. The products have been a substantial lift to local employers."

Supply and demand

The popularity of the personal protective shield has created a demand for acrylic. "Acrylic today is what toilet paper was two and a half months ago. It's typical supply and demand. They are jacking up the price because they have the opportunity. We are turning the product out pretty quickly so we have to keep up with the demand for the acrylic component." Landwehr gave an example, "The Smithsonian Institute is opening in a couple of weeks and they want their products now."

The acrylic is purchased in 72" by 96" sheets protected by a blue plastic coating. The sheets are cut to size and inserted in attractive frames. Footings are applied to the bottom of the frame so the protective shield can be affixed to countertops or flooring without drilling any holes, making removal, repositioning or relocating of the shield possible with the use of a citrus-based solvent. "What we anticipate are more spikes in Covid-19 cases. We believe our protective shields will be a permanent fixture in public places." He concluded, "We are really happy about selling our product locally. We built them to look good and be durable. It makes me proud to walk into a local business and see part of our product line providing another layer of protection to the public. Employees feel safer when their employer cares enough to protect them with a high-quality, appealing product."

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