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Meeting New Needs

Manufacturer Turns To Barriers As COVID Alters Requests

ave Messinger, president and CEO of Colecraft Commercial Manufacturing, stands next to a polycarbonate desk barrier that can be used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. P-J photo by Jay Young

Local businesses are continuing to adapt to changes in the marketplace as a result of COVID-19, including Colecraft Commercial Manufacturing.

Operating in Jamestown since 2003, Colecraft offers custom furniture solutions for a variety of different applications.

The manufacturer, which operates with a staff of 30, specializes in high-quality products designed for specific needs.

“We try to make furniture that really is going to last a lifetime,” said President and CEO Dave Messinger. “We manufacture custom commercial furniture. We supply furniture to businesses, municipalities, to schools and colleges and universities.”

Colecraft products can be found at libraries, schools and private businesses throughout Western New York and beyond, and have also become staples at automotive dealerships operated by Bentley Motors Limited.

In the wake of COVID-19, Colecraft was forced to suspend production for a period of several weeks, with many of its customers sharing a similar fate. Now that production has resumed, demand has changed as well.

Many businesses and public spaces such as municipal buildings and courthouses now need to be fitted with plastic barriers in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“When the COVID situation developed it became obvious to us that some type of physical separation was going to be needed, not just in education but almost anywhere where people congregate,” Messinger said. “Our customers started coming to us and asking if we could help them with solutions. We’re providing this solution potentially not just for education but for a number of different applications, wherever people are prevented from the normal social distancing but need some kind of a physical barrier to help keep the situation as healthy as is possible.”

As schools continue to make plans for the upcoming fall semester, many have considered adding polycarbonate barriers to classrooms as part of their reopening plans.

“As we move towards school opening, so many of the schools, most all of them, have been trying to figure out how to bring the children back into a safe and healthy environment,” Messinger said. “In some schools they have decided that the clear polycarbonate dividers are a part of that solution, other schools have gone a different way.”

While Colecraft has produced limited runs of polycarbonate barriers, many area schools are still waiting to see if large numbers will be needed this fall.

“The larger orders that we have quoted are still pending while the schools really try to explore what the best solution is for them,” Messinger said. “We don’t look at this as something that is necessarily going to be a long-term need. The solution that we provide for schools, they are either going to do it or they are not going to do it over the next two or three months I would expect. If we can help the schools and provide some solution that will help, that is just one part of a total program. It really comes down to the challenge of having the kids accept the challenge of wearing face masks and social distancing and washing their hands and all that, and the schools disinfecting things. Our dividers can play a role in that but they can’t solve any of those others problems.”

Colecraft’s dividers come in a number of configurations, and can be manufactured to suit the specific needs of classrooms and students.

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