Newman Signs Literally Raising Barriers to Fight COVID-19

Newman Signs Literally Raising Barriers to Fight COVID-19 Main Photo

1 May 2020

Newman Signs typically manufactures and distributes signs for a wide range of traffic, urban and outdoor advertising. As the demand for billboards, window decals, vehicle graphics, art canvas, banners, posters and other specialty signs dried up with COVID-19 uncertainties, the company has repurposed their manufacturing capabilities to produce acrylic barriers for a wide range of businesses. The company has learned literally raising barriers to combat the virus has been in great demand. So great, in fact, that the raw material may not last much longer.

“Those with a need for this type of product for their business need to order soon,” said Ramone Gumke, operations manager at Newman SIgns. “In about three weeks, we and similar manufacturers will be out of the raw acrylic.”

COVID-19 impact and reaction

As a division of Newman Signs in Jamestown, North Dakota, Newman Print is a commercial printing business. In a normal year, their peak production season typically begins in March, but that has definitely taken a detour this year. In reaction to the COVID-19 crisis, Newman has repurposed their acrylic cutting equipment to supply barriers for businesses having customer interfaces. They’ve been able to produce free-standing clear acrylic sheets that can be set up in business environments to provide a barrier between employees and customers.  The sheets can be easily taken down or moved around. And business has been quite hectic, said Gumke.

“Now that states like North Dakota are beginning to open back up, businesses are in a mad scramble to prepare to open,” he said. “Everyone with the manufacturing capability is trying to produce these products.”

Demand has been so high that the supply of uncut raw sheets of acrylic is now backordered to as much as 120 days. Newman has taken orders from across the country from customers such as the U.S. Postal Service, Sanford Health and doctor offices.

“It seems like every order this week has been a different dentist or orthodontist office,” said Gumke. “With the supply dwindling, if they don’t get their orders in soon, they will have to wait quite a while.”

Jamestown and JSDC help

Newman has been located in Jamestown 60 years, where it has benefitted from a central location both within the state and the country. But the company knows it has been extremely fortunate with the available workforce found in the city. Gumke said without the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corporation (JSDC), the community would not continue to grow and Newman would not have access to that high quality workforce. 

“The JSDC has been a great partner, bringing in complementary businesses to keep the community vibrant,” he said.

While the company leans on its acrylic capabilities as a way to get through the current crisis, Gumke expects their regular print business to come back. Once businesses and individuals are more financially secure, they’re going to need to play catch-up with their advertising to maximize their sales and profits, he said.

“With all our different product divisions hosting customers with a big need for advertising, I expect business to be busier than a normal year,” said Gumke.