BUFFALO, N.Y. — Business is a bit different these days for Zoom Copy owner Rory Allen, but he's not about to turn down orders because that means he can keep some of his employees working at a time when so many others across Western New York are unemployed.
"I've been working pretty much every waking hour, just trying to keep up with the requests that we have coming in. It's kind of strange because I kind of expected to be sitting around and twiddling my thumbs, and instead I'm busy at work communicating with people about what they need," Allen said.
Allen started his business 17 years ago in his apartment. This recent change in business operations is slightly reminiscent of that, except now he has a family to support and several employees.
"I immediately panicked when I saw that businesses were being shut down. I worked very hard to get to this point and to be told you can't operate [is tough]. Thankfully, we are able to operate with one person safely doing the production and the rest of us working remotely," Allen said.
He and three others are still working. Three other employees are currently laid off.
"I have one employee in my office, and I work out of my car and basement. And I have an employee at home as a designer. I have another employee who does deliveries," Allen said.
This current setup allows them to stay open, follow social distancing measures and fill orders, which look a bit different than what he's used to.
"Never did I think I would be printing hand sanitizer labels for an emergency production of hand sanitizers," said Allen.
He's also printing signage that shows appreciation for healthcare and front line workers.
There's also been a growing demand for lawn signs for high school and college seniors, since their final year has been upended by the pandemic.
Allen said a friend came up with that idea, and it quickly took off.
"Within 24 hours, the signs were all over Western New York. People were saying can you create one for my child? And we did. That has now gone nationwide," said Allen.
Allen is working with his bank to apply for the paycheck protection program (PPP), which is part of the CARES act.
The PPP is intended to provide loans to businesses to guarantee eight weeks of payroll and other costs to help those businesses remain viable and allow their workers to pay their bills.