How the pandemic is sparking new businesses in Manitoba

By | June 5, 2020

WINNIPEG — As businesses prepare to reopen, they have a lot of work to do in terms of signage, layout, and sanitization. Other businesses are now changing what they do to stay afloat while helping other businesses get back on track. Meanwhile, some new companies are blossoming.

This would normally be a busy time of year for Creative Display, a Winnipeg company that makes displays and exhibits for trade shows. Once the pandemic hit, trade shows were cancelled and postponed, leaving the business scrambling.

“We kind of had to take a couple of weeks to sort of evaluate the situation, and come up with another game plan, in terms of things that we could offer,” said Doug Schenk, president and owner of Creative Display.

Schenk said his team sat down to figure out their next steps. His business then went from focussing on trade shows to supplying COVID-19 signage for businesses.

They create everything from floor decals to desk displays and acrylic shields.

“We have a full graphics department, we have designers on staff, and we’ve got an array of display products that would help for businesses considering reopening,” said Schenk.

He hopes their products can make the transition to the new normal easier, and said they can give some direction. Schenk said at the beginning of the pandemic, his staff was laid off, but nearly all have now been brought back.

NEW BUSINESSES BLOSSOMING

While some businesses have completely switched gears during the pandemic, Winnipeg is also seeing new companies pop up – ones that are working to ensure other businesses have a proper layout and are following guidelines set out by the province.

“We try to find the fine balance of social distancing measures and the maximum allowable seating capacity for a restaurant,” said Mehroz Ali, one of the co-founders of COVID Layout Manitoba.

Ali and his two colleagues, Trevor Garden and Cody Bjornsson, came up for the idea for this new business. The three all have engineering backgrounds.

Ali said they sketch a floor plan, write a detailed report, and then provide that information to the business, which can then implement the physical distancing measures.

They recently created a plan for Silver Heights Restaurant where they were able to ensure all of the tables were properly distanced, there were dedicated entrance and exit points, and arrows designating which way people needed to walk on the floor.

Ali is hoping to work with more restaurants, as well as gyms and hotels.

“We see that there are a lot of industries, a lot of businesses, a lot of people who are suffering from this pandemic,” said Ali. “We have a skill set that can be applied to a lot of places, and it will alleviate the stress from the minds of a lot of people.”

Ali said they are currently in the process of getting their business incorporated.

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