Luis Molinero /

OVID-19 has affected our entire Canadian industry, from legislated closures to laid-off staff and even some businesses closing their doors for good. Times have been tough, but the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to shine. Businesses are reopening, staff levels are increasing and many members are working hard to manufacture personal protective equipment. Things are finally starting to look up. 

Many PPPC member companies have been hard at work doing their part during the pandemic. We reached out to three prominent Canadian companies that pivoted their organizations’ goals, funds and staff throughout the past weeks and months. Keep reading to learn about how ArtechPro, Big K Clothing and Attraction, Inc. have been coping with and making the most out of the pandemic. Thank you to these Canadian companies for sharing their personal perspectives with us.

“Staying Healthy is Everybody’s Business.” This was the title of the email sent to our distributors, launching our new visor, an item we would never have previously thought of producing. ArtechPro has always been known to take good care of its distributors; this global pandemic moved us to take our reputation to a whole new level. 

As a team, we needed to become more innovative. We used our time, talents and strengths to find ways to produce new items never considered before. This would allow the distributor to offer exactly what the market needed, when it needed it most.

As a team, we had to evolve and adjust our ways of communicating, both internally and with our customers. Working from home or remotely, videoconferencing, changes in work/family balance—these are all part of our “new normal.” Reacting to this swift change, we have increased the frequency of our email blasts and added downloadable, ready-to-use versions for end users and social media for our distributors.

As a team, we are strongly united. Last March, I had to lay more people off than I have had to in all my 25 years combined at ArtechPro. Just a couple of months later, thanks to the strength of our team members and the loyalty and support of our distributors, I’m happy to say the majority of our employees are back to work full time. 

As a team, we will reinvent the future. It is during the most difficult times that the strongest bonds are created. Looking at the synergy between what we have experienced and how our industry is evolving, I know we will accomplish great things, rain or shine.

Big K has been a leader in the industry for many years. Big K has been serving the industry since 1967 and is family-owned and operated. We are proud to be contributing to the relief of COVID-19 front-line workers, families and friends.

Since COVID-19 hit, we have been manufacturing and importing masks and other items to do our part. We had several customers complaining about the shortage of masks and requesting for us to deliver. Since we have a full cut-and-sew operation, it was easy for us to start producing masks. When we brought the idea to our team, they were excited that we, as a company, would be helping so many people stay safe. During this time, we have been providing PPE and items to health-care workers so they can stay safe. 

We have been hearing it since March: “We may all be weathering the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat.”

After the mandatory shutdown of nonessential businesses, our small community was in trouble.

When you run a business in a town of only 1,100 people, getting individuals back to work was something that weighed heavily on our minds. Attraction had to completely turn the business upside down and “build a new boat” to survive—not just for our company, but for our community.

Keeping our goal of producing ethical and sustainable products in mind, we shifted from apparel production to the production of organic cotton face masks and medical gowns. Within two weeks of the mandatory closure, Attraction was proud to re-open as an essential service. 

It was important for us to find a way to contribute to the fight against COVID-19, while respecting our values of offering ethical and sustainable PPE products. We are proud that some of the PPE has gone to health-care workers and companies across Canada and the USA. Today, our employees are producing 12,000 masks a day. They are happy to be back at work and extremely thankful for the fast action we took to recreate our business. They know we have always prioritized their security and wellbeing. 

How you act in the face of a crisis really shines a light on who you are as an employer. We don’t know what the future will bring, but we are confident that with our team behind us, we can weather the storm. 

Check the Weekly newsletter’s section, Some Heroes Wear Branded Capes; we are sharing stories every week. Submit your story today. 


Jonathan Strauss is president and CEO of Promotional Product Professionals of Canada (PPPC).