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SYCAMORE – What does an event production company do when all concerts and special events are canceled because of a pandemic? For Sycamore-based Upstaging Inc., the answer involves a little bit of production change.
In the past week, the company has converted its operations to emergency response work to produce face shields and equipment for temporary testing and treatment centers amid the coronavirus crisis in the county.
Just a few weeks ago, Upstaging’s 150 employees were busy doing what they have for the last 40 years: producing lighting and stage shows for the biggest acts in the music industry such as The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift. Their efforts led to setting up and managing events for corporations and sports teams and shipping equipment for special events all around the world.
But when the coronavirus outbreak brought all events to a screeching halt, Upstaging was faced with a grave dilemma: how to keep its people employed with canceled events and no more work.
“We needed to pivot and react to the new reality,” said John Huddleston, Upstaging general manager.
Luckily for Upstaging, responding to the urgent needs during this time was easy, said Huddleston, because they are accustomed to meeting strange demands from artists and delivering within an urgent timetable.
In response, Upstaging is now trucking essential items such as protective face shields, room dividers, signage and power distribution for temporary testing and treatment centers.
The company’s fabrication department has started to manufacture optically clear, fog-free face shields that can be used by first responders, nursing home staff, mental health facilities and retail clerks.
“We’re finding that the product we made is a very premium product,” Huddleston said. “Everybody that we’ve sent samples to really loves it.”
Upstaging was able to secure the raw materials for the face shields before costs went up, and can provide the reusable protective gear at a reasonable price. They have made about 60,000 shields so far, and are ramping up to produce 2,000 a day. They have already received large orders from the state of Illinois.
Upstaging also is using its new capabilities to help out the local community, as the company recently donated some of the face shields to the Sycamore Fire Department. The shields have the Sycamore FD logo and a 3M reflective strip for night time safety.
“[They said] they’re better than what they had, which they are running out of,” Huddleston said. “They’re thrilled.”
During a public health crisis, there’s specialized trucking that needs to take place to deliver essential materials, such as medical equipment and groceries, on time. Because of the company’s experience carrying millions of dollars of equipment for rock ‘n’ roll shows, Upstaging’s trucks and vans are uniquely equipped and insured to take high value loads.
With the increasing number of temporary testing and treatment centers being set up to address the viral outbreak, Upstaging also provides equipment and support to help.
For facilities, Upstaging offers room dividers and signage made from a plastic board that can be wiped down easily. They also provide enough power supply and distribution to outfit a massive temporary building with 120v/208v power drops. Some of the stage lighting is also well-equipped for general building lighting.
“This is not a profit center for us; this is a survival center,” Huddleston said. “We’re just doing all we can to keep our staff employed [and] on our payroll, instead of on the government payroll.”
Upstaging Inc. can be reached by phone at 815-899-9888 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.