Norcross Manufacturer Shields Heroes and Saves their Small Business
The Cutting Board Company in Norcross manufactures plastic cutting boards for restaurants and homes. Most of its sales are direct to restaurants and industrial resellers or retailers like Neiman Marcus and Williams Sonoma.
When the coronavirus hit, sales hit the floor.
“Ninety percent of our business went away, almost overnight,” said owner Dave Brautigan. “I’d heard about the CARES (federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) loans, so I contacted Pete.”
Peter Williams, a consultant with the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (UGA SBDC) in Macon, and Brautigan had worked together two decades earlier. When Williams joined the UGA SBDC, he contacted Brautigan. They’ve worked together ever since.
Williams helped Brautigan explore emergency financing options and assisted in his application for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan through the CARES Act. “I kept Dave apprised, and he got up to speed very quickly on the details,” Williams said.
When Brautigan learned Delta Airlines had donated 4,000 face shields, he realized he could pivot his business from making cutting boards to making masks.
“We had the machines and labor, and could get the plastics to make these,” Brautigan said. “I figured we could donate the shields and keep our people busy.”
He got the loan and was able to keep his 10 employees busy making about 300,000 face shields, of which more than 30,000 were donated. They then began producing acrylic cash register barriers for stores.
“The shields helped us keep our people employed and the lights on, and the acrylic barriers saved our business,” he said. Growth took off, and 12 employees were added to help manufacture the barriers.
“Dave took the shutdown in stride, saw it as a problem to be solved, and tackled it with his team,” said Williams. “He is one of the most positive people around.”
“It’s business 101,” said Brautigan. “Know your resources. Everyone was calling their bankers. We called the SBDC. We couldn’t tell which assistance news was fact or fiction. Pete would respond with a level of honesty that put my mind at ease.”