BRANT: New CEO’s Innovative Adaptation to COVID-19 | Signs of the Times

Jason Schwandt, a young entrepreneur, married, with twin boys, decided to invest in Brant recently. He bought a successful Cainsville business, Brooks Signs, already established across Canada for their high-quality work and professionalism… and then COVID-19 changed his plans. The world virtually shut down leaving many businesses dark, employees without income, and unsure on how to adapt to this new problem. 

Except that became a positive challenge for Jason.

“ We bought this business because it checked off our boxes: the incredible creative talent and specialization in-house; the reputation of integrity and quality developed by the previous owners, Tony and Angela Henrique: the potential for growth and opportunity; the marriage of design, technology and materials; and the dynamic environment that every day brought new and exciting challenges.” 

In spite of the devastation of COVID-19 “We are not going down without a fight!”

He reflects on his own background that brought him to this decision to energize his new company. As a Director on private boards of companies dealing internationally with bullion trading (precious metals, like gold and silver). His formal education as an Electrical Engineer with an MBA. Manufacturing and program management experience for international businesses. Sales, marketing, and consulting for entrepreneurial start-ups. And being close to his family.

Even his 9-year-old twins come to his office (and protective bubble) and hone their computer skills on computers and DIY ‘Making Things’ with battery powered motor inventions.

The apple seems to fall not far from the tree.

Schwandt still works 12 hours a day side-by-side with his staff of 23 and willing adapted to fit the times.

His first acknowledgement was in his protection for his employees. Social distancing in the plant is critical, everyone must wear goggles, and even clients, suppliers and visitors must wear masks and gloves on site.

Even as Schwandt submits applications for government COVID subsidies the rules initially were somewhat confusing. As a manufacturer of plastic and metal commercial signage, he was federally considered as a legitimate business to remain open during this pandemic, except the province ironically declared he couldn’t install his creative products as that fell under the designation of construction because that sector became restricted through prevention of installing the signs.

So, he adapted again.

“There was a need presented to our company’s innovative thinkers by converting our product design to protect seniors, retailers and health care workers from the virus. We bought out all the local supply of plexiglass and set out to convert our processes”

Doctors and Dentists needed plastic barriers for reception areas: seniors needed barriers for banquet table serving areas such that folks could still socialize across from their friends during meals while protecting from sharing direct air flow within a four-foot space. Retailers need counter protections. Each required the stability and individual height for the different applications. He custom made his products thanks to his innovative and creative contributions from the Brooks Signs staff.

In the few months since taking ownership Schwandt has taken the opportunity of available employee time to cross-train his staff so either electrical, metal, or plastic specialists, mechanical or creative and sales can understand their colleague’s functions and appreciate the overall corporate responsibilities as a system to add value to the customer experience.
Brant welcomes the new Brooks Signs to the wealth of manufacturing expertise offered and Jason’s philosophy ties into that:

“We are scaling to expand with fresh eyes, hire more staff and adding physical room for growth. We are here to work together… through innovative collaboration… and with the community as expected over the past 35 years.”

Welcome Jason and staff. Your company is literally and figuratively how Canadians expect conversion of operations in this new normal “Signs of the Times!”

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