“People make sacrifices when they go to a start-up, they believe in you as a person, they believe in the mission and what you’re building. You know who they’re married to, you know their kids, you know what their financial situation is”, Russ Layton, a Northeastern University graduate and also the chief executive and founder of Sparx Hockey says this when he realises the perils of his employees who are currently furloughed under the guidelines of public health commission in Massachusetts. Sparx is a start-up business of portable skate sharpeners that has been also ranked the fifty-sixth in the Inc.500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.
The rapid transition from being one of the fastest grossing companies to furloughing seventy per cent of the employees leading to a slowdown in business due to the global pandemic left Layton worried about his company and his employees. However, he decided to turn his garage into his workshop and fight back from there. His garage in suburban Boston has been outfitted with two industrial laser cutting machines to construct thousands of protective face shields during a day. He says, “It is surreal, because I’m sitting here in my home office, looking out the window, and I see people walking their dogs while we’re all pulling this company together.”
The apparent progress of their work gave the workers and the employers encouragement to work unremittingly. The initial prototype was laminated by cardstock. They constructed ten shields on the first trial, another 350 the next day, and close to one thousand by the end of the week. They further set a goal to produce two thousand per day. The Sparx protective face shield is ten inches long and is designed to be worn with medically approved masks and eyewear for single use.
Meanwhile, Layton has brought back nine of his workers and hopes to rehire the rest of his staff under the Payroll Protection Programme to stand against the trying time while renewing their company to contribute to the national effort to overcome the pandemic.