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Monticello manufacturer made pivot from restaurant furniture to pandemic supplies

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 8:07 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Like many businesses, Oak Street Manufacturing in Our Town Monticello had to pivot during the pandemic.

They make furniture for restaurants such as booths, tables and seating through wholesale suppliers. When the pandemic forced many restaurants to shut down indoor dining or close, that impacted 95% of Oak Street’s customer base. They were concerned about what it would mean for the future of the business.

CEO Tom Bagge said they took a step back to figure out what they could make that would sell.

“Is there anything that we can develop that fits into the restaurant scheme well, better than maybe something off the shelf, something we could do very quickly,” Bagge said.

They came up with hand sanitizer stations and, later, handwashing stations so restaurants could offer a way to make customers feel more comfortable. Bagge said the response for the hand sanitizer stations was overwhelming and they couldn’t make them fast enough.

Now, demand from restaurants is back. And though they’re dealing with some sourcing and supply issues like many companies that build products, they’re happy to once again supply seating in restaurants.

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