When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and PPE shortages began, Polar Shades knew they had the tools needed to aid in the low supply chain. The roller shade company quickly began pivoting their business model in order to start producing PPE supplies for their community in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Polar Shades, established over 25 years ago, started as a dream in the garage for founder Steve Mevius,. That dream soon grew to become one of the largest manufacturing plants for roller shades in the United States. Polar Shades recognized the desperate need in the economy back in March and soon went from creating custom roller shades to creating life-saving Personal Protective Equipment for first responders and healthcare providers. Not only has Polar Shades’ manufactured PPE for the community, but they have also been able to keep their doors open while keeping their staff employed.
What Polar Shades has done for the community during this time has been nothing short of remarkable. Their ability to act in a proactive manner within 48 hours of meeting with the fire departments and switch to mass-producing PPE is an inspiration to many. Coverage in local newspapers, the Wall Street Journal, national news, and the City of Henderson has recognized Polar Shades’ for their community service.
While creating and distributing PPE began as an emergency decision, it has now turned into a long-term side of the business. “We want to get back to making shades,” Steve Mevius told Fox 5 News. “But until we know that everyone has the equipment to be safe, we’ve got a job to do.”
What made you decide to adapt your business during COVID-19?
Our switch from shades to PPE during COVID-19 originally started as a small idea we had discussed. We knew we had the capabilities with the type of manufacturing equipment we have, but it was being able to connect with the right people in order for our small idea to come to life. Jordan reached out to her friend from the City of Henderson and within 24 hours we had the fire department at our facility. Within 48 hours we were at our beginning stages of producing PPE.
What was the process like to create PPE like masks, gowns, and face shields?
The process at first was frustrating to say the least. Mainly because we were having many troubles being able to locate the raw goods needed to produce PPE. It was a matter of getting the raw goods while perfecting production in order to be as productive as possible. Our mask material came all the way from Massachusetts; 50,000 lbs. of it.
The gowns would start at the cutting table, where we’d roll out plastic to cut after one of our employees had created a gown template. Then we’d transfer the gowns over for the sleeves to be welded, then the gowns all had to be packed. Our goal was to increase our volume daily since we couldn’t get enough PPE produced fast enough. At max, we were packing 7,000 gowns a day and 5,000 masks a day.
What lessons can you share that you’ve learned adapting to the new normal?
There were a lot of lessons that we learned during this time. One being you can adapt any business to any need as long as you have that mindset. Great things never came from comfort zones.
We are used to making shades, so PPE was a totally new division for us that we had to figure out how to adapt to. Having a good, supportive team makes all the difference in the world, and it is important to have those people in your corner.
Tell us a bit of background on your company, how did you get started?
Polar Shades, Inc. started back in 1994 in the back of Steve Mevius’ garage. A manager at American Airlines for 20 years, Steve decided it was time to make his dream become a reality. In 2002, Polar Shades officially opened its first office space with Steve’s father, Art Mevius.
Polar Shades continued to grow in the Las Vegas valley and grew enough to become one of the largest manufacturing plants for roller shades in the United States.
What do you like about motorized products and working with Somfy?
Somfy has been a great partner helping us provide motorization solutions for customers across the world. The motorized products offer a great advantage to roller shades for commercial buildings, residential homes, restaurants, offices, and more.
What’s an example of one of your favorite motorized installations?
One of our favorite motorized installations is the skylight shades we installed in Kentucky. We used all Somfy motors to install this project and they are beautiful, state-of-the-art motorized shades.