After PPE sales ‘saved my business’ in 2020, Southbury company owner looks to the future – Danbury News Times
When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, Scott Schaake’s business was greatly impacted like so many others around the world. With businesses closing their doors and offices moving remote, being unable install lighting in those buildings became problematic.
Because of that, the future of the business was up in the air.
Schaake, the owner and president of USA LED Lighting Solutions, had to think quick. The business, originally known as Tiger Technologies LLC, evolved under its new name in 2010 and manufactures, retrofits, installs and sells lighting predominantly for commercial buildings.
“COVID-19 started injuring our business in March 2020,” the owner of the Southbury-based business, said. “From March-August in 2020 our USA LED company had no business. We couldn’t produce any sales. During those six months at the height of the pandemic building owners weren’t able to allow us to make installations. We couldn’t call on businesses to produce a new pipeline of clients and customers.”
Struggling to find a way for his business to survive, Schaake took advantage of a perfect storm of events that led to a new business opportunity.
Schaake’s wife Betty is a nurse and he knew firsthand about the need for PPE in the health industry, in particular the need for masks.
Through Schaake’s PCB business, he had ties to clients in China. During a conversation with a Chinese client in March 2020, Schaake discussed the need for masks in the United States. Schaake said at the time the height of the pandemic had passed through China and plenty of N95 masks were available.
The Chinese client sent Schaake a box of 200 masks for his wife and family to use. Schaake started getting requests for the masks so he connected with a Chinese PPE supply company.
“I purchased as many masks as I could,” Schaake said. “At the time, the normal supply chain couldn’t handle the demand for PPE. I applied to several assisted living community services and anyone I could think of who needed PPE.”
The company sold gowns, gloves and goggles, along with masks.
“The PPE sales we did in 2020 saved my business,” he said.
One of the biggest sales Schaake had from March-August was selling two million masks to the New York Transit Authority.
“By August 2000, the normal medical supply chain was able to get caught up to the PPE demand and that pushed me out of the PPE business. But at the same time, the LED business was slowly returning. From August to December (2020) we were allowed to get our clients back and our installations those three months were good.”
Southbury economic development director Kevin Bielmeier said while increasing the number of businesses in town has been important, especially following the COVID outbreak, retaining them has been just as vital. He pointed to creativity, like Schaake’s for helping make that possible.
“We have many new businesses and that’s great, but business retention is great too,” Bielmeier said. “ The tenacity and creativity required by some of our long-standing …….