Jamestown company makes clear plastic shields

Newman Print barrier
Protective acrylic cough/sneeze guard made by Newman Print in Jamestown. John M. Steiner / The Sun

There are opportunities even during the coronavirus pandemic for businesses that have the right supplies, equipment and ideas, according to Ramone Gumke, operations manager of Newman Print, a division of Newman Signs.

Gumke said they became aware there was a shortage of the clear plastic barriers that many retail locations are installing between the working area of the clerk and the customer at the checkout lines.

"It is the same material we had been printing (signs and pictures) on," he said. "We made an opportunity out of a bad situation to keep our people at work."

About four weeks ago, the company fabricated the first barrier and put a posting about the product on Facebook, Gumke said.

"That was our only marketing," he said. "We've sent 750 out the door already and now we're waiting on acrylic."


Connie Ova, CEO of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., said the idea is helping the economy of the community.

"I think it is remarkable," she said. "It goes back to the history of the company and Harold Newman being innovative."

Gumke said the possibilities are only limited by the supply of acrylic material they can purchase. Newman Print anticipates receiving enough material to produce about 1,700 more shields yet this week. Of those 1,700, 300 have already been sold.

"Some of the acrylic suppliers aren't taking back orders anymore," he said. "Most are at least 120 days out (for delivery)."

Gumke said there is a lot of demand for the shields but there is also a lot of competition.

"Anybody that has the capability and materials to make these is making them," he said.

Ova said that doesn't mean there aren't other opportunities for businesses to meet changing needs.

"As you look at coronavirus and businesses reopening there will be things they have to do," she said. "There will be any number of things that are possibilities for innovative businesses."


Gumke said this opportunity has helped them utilize materials they already had but weren't using in the coronavirus pandemic economy. Newman Print produces signs, posters, banners and other products that can be used for advertising and other uses by businesses and individuals.

"Business had definitely slowed down for us," he said. "This has been pretty wild but the world has become a different place now."

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