How one company in Elmwood thrived during the pandemic
Managers take on coronavirus, the enemy which almost put them out of business
HARAHAN, La. (WVUE) - When fans streamed into the Superdome or the Smoothie King Center for live sports events, they found the place wrapped in elaborate oversize graphics.
The artwork, produced by Crystal Clear Imagining and its roughly 40 employees in Elmwood, suddenly was a staple of the company’s business.
That is, until COVID-19 hit.
“All of that just stopped,” said Cheri Landry, a manager as the Elmwood business.
CEO Arthur Boisfontaine felt the emotion in his employees.
“People are looking at me, my employees, like what are we going to do?”
Boisfontaine decided to fight the enemy that threatened to put him out of business, buying up masks, wipes and truckloads of Plexiglass.
“We bought an enormous amount of Plex,” Boisfontaine said, “to the point that people all over the country were like, ‘who’s got the plex?’ Well, we had the plex.”
They make Plexiglass shields for a number of purposes, from boxes that isolate doctors from COVID-19 patients to shields on rollers for school teachers.
In the early days of the pandemic, Boisfontaine and his partners saw that people were looking for ways to protect themselves.
“They had a gallon jug on the table and I went up there to put some sanitizer in my hand, got looking and said, I don’t want to touch it,” said Dale LeBrun, CEO at Quality Metal Works, which has had a long business relationship with Crystal Clear Imaging.
The two CEO’s and their staffs brainstormed solutions, which lead to the PurePedal station, a stainless steel sanitizer dispenser operated by a foot pedal.
“And away we go, started putting them out like crazy,” LeBrun said."
Boisfontaine said settling on a final design took “seven weeks of grinding.”
“We wanted to have few moving parts,” Boisfontaine said. “So, there’s a spring and there’s wheels. There’s not a lot of moving parts.”
There were unexpected supply hurdles along the way as they began manufacturing the units at the metal shop.
“Our first run, we’re going to run 300 units,” LeBrun said. “That’s a lot of money. Well, we needed 24,000 rivets.”
All of the units come decorated with decals from Crystal Clear, the original company PurePedal is now helping to keeping in business.
“We’ve been very fortunate, because we have all this work,” said Rory Rousset, a Crystal Clear employee. “We’ve been able to stay in here full time.”
The company has sold about 2,000 of the units so far.
"We’ve got about 10,000-12,000 that we’re working deals with currently right now,” Boisfontaine said.
“Being able to pivot, and provide something that people needed now, saved the company,” said Cheri Landy, who now serves as Chief Operating Officer of PurePedal.
The units do not come cheap, roughly $750-$900 apiece depending on the package a customer might purchase.
Since the PurePedals come with two, one-gallon jug containers of sanitizer, Boisfontaine said buys can actually save money over time.
“On a high volume area, it pays for itself quickly.”
Even if the pandemic declines over time, PurePedal managers believe demand for sanitation and cleaning projects will remain high for the foreseeable future.
“We’ve got our same staff from when COVID hit,” Boisfontaine said. “Not a lot of companies can say that.”
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