Vancouver business reinvents itself, provides protective gear

Clark County

A small business switched gears to survive the pandemic while filling a need

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It has been an uncertain year for small businesses — yet some are reinventing themselves to fill new needs and respond to new demands brought about by the pandemic.

No business typifies this more than Vancouver’s Ace Lineup Athletics. They’ve navigated the pandemic all while providing much-needed Personal Protective Gear for SW Washington and beyond.

For well over 10 years, the bread and butter of Ace Lineup Athletics has been attaching designs and logos onto t-shirts, baseball hats -and any other items lending itself to being logoed. But when the pandemic came to America a year ago, the promotional products business dried up — and owners Chad and Alisa Williams knew their old business would likely not be enough to get them through.    

“But what got us to move was an article in the Columbian that said eight mayors in our county could not get PPE that they needed because everything was being kept in Seattle,” Alisa said.

Alisa and Chad looked at each other — they already had well-established relationships with Chinese suppliers of masks, shields and other personal protective gear that many here in America needed but could not get their hands on.  So they suddenly jumped from logos and embroidered baseball caps into the procurement of personal protective equipment.

At first, it was primarily to help supply Portland Vancouver area hospitals, medical facilities and any other places in the community that needed it.

“We were mainly trying to fill the void for our community,” Chad said. “We had a bunch of mayors trying to get PPE from our governor and we were like, ‘we can get it,’ so that’s when we started reaching out to them.”

Since that quick business decision a year ago, medical protective gear has populated their website. It hasn’t replaced the promotional products sector of the business — but it has helped fill a big need for PPE in the community while keeping yet another small business alive to fight another day.

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