Local Business Meets Demand for Plastic Barriers

Image of a dining counter in a restaurant which has a clear plastic barrier.

A local restaurant with social barriers made by The Plastics Guy.

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Working on an order.

Business changed overnight for Natomas residents Brett and Chyanne Bartlett when the COVID-19 pandemic hit California.

That’s because demand for products from their boutique plastic fabrication company skyrocketed almost overnight.

“We have been running 14 hour days since this stay-at-home began and it isn’t slowing down one bit,” said Brett Bartlett.

The Bartletts own and operate The Plastics Guy. The couple got their start in 2014 making boat windshields and skylights, but expanded the business and opened their 4,000 square-foot shop on Main Avenue in 2017. In addition to their employees, the shop has provided training for local high school graduates who wanted to learn more about manufacturing jobs and get hands-on experience.

Image of restaurant counter where orders are placed is blocked by clear solid plastic.

The Plastics Guy made social barriers and sneeze guards for the Coffee Break Café in Natomas.

The Plastics Guy now offers a variety of services from cut-to-size pieces of acrylic to large-scale production and fulfillment of plastic parts. But the shop’s normal product line has shifted dramatically since the pandemic, Bartlett said.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, about half of The Plastics Guy business was manufacturing factory and agricultural equipment parts and the other half was making displays, signs, domes and boat windshields. Now, Bartlett said, 80% of their orders are for social barriers and sneeze guards.

“During this time we have had the opportunity to make hundreds of plastic sneeze guards for local grocery stores, pet stores, banks, Walmart and the Amazon fulfillment center,” Bartlett said. “We have also been employed to make safety shrouds that cover COVID-19 patients in area hospitals to protect healthcare providers when working around them.”

Orders for social barriers and sneeze guards continue to come in from restaurants, dental offices, state and county offices and retail stores hoping to open soon, he added. In recent weeks, the Bartletts have done work for several Natomas businesses including Grocery Outlet, Safeway, Bad Bakers, Subway restaurants, Koshi Ramen Bar and Coffee Break Café.

“Though the hours are taxing and the work is seemingly endless, we feel so honored and blessed to be able to use our company’s capabilities to help battle this historic public health crisis,” said Bartlett, adding that demand from their regular customers has not changed amid COVID-19. “We have had to put many of the non-critical orders on the back burner in order to provide essential services faster.”

The Plastics Guy currently has three full-time employees and may need to hire more to keep up with demand for protective barriers businesses need in order to reopen to the public, Bartlett said.

“We have been very fortunate in that we have not had to lay workers off and have started giving overtime shifts for the first time ever just to keep up with demand,” said Bartlett.

Bartlett said it’s difficult when he and his wife see friends and neighbors who are struggling to pay bills and keep their businesses alive during the pandemic.

“It is why we have committed ourselves to buying local and supporting family businesses in our area as much as we possibly can during this time,” he said. “We try to give back by ordering from Natomas companies before buying online or from large national chains.”

Image of equipment with COVID-19 written in plastic shavings.

A sign of the times in The Plastics Guy shop.

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