For a company that creates event merchandise and regalia – name tags, backstage passes, and V.I.P badges – the new normal of social distancing could have dealt a devastating financial blow.

PC/Nametag, located at 124 Horizon Drive since 2001, has built its business around communities of people getting together and being in close proximity, director of sales and customer service Kindra Evans told the Press. It’s had to adapt to a world where people are now often encouraged to stay apart from one another, Evans said.

Last March, the phone rang constantly, Evans said, as there was so much uncertainty about gatherings and cancelations of upcoming events.

“The onset of COVID-19 really hit at the core of what we do,” she said.

In a normal year, January through March are PC/Nametag’s busiest months, Evans said. But with meeting and event planners not knowing how to proceed during the pandemic, a prolonged drop-off of business loomed and staff at PC/Nametag had to decide what to do.

In the ten months since, the business has pivoted its manufacturing in two new directions – first, the production of personal protective equipment (PPE), then, the creation of kits for the attendees of virtual events – from conference welcome kits to staff party kits.

“We were always about human connections and bringing people together, that’s how customers and industry know us,” Evans said. “How do we be true to ourselves – still connect and do that in post-COVID-19 world – keep communication going but in a safe manner?”

As some of the company’s manufacturing equipment was sitting on standby last spring and was quieter than it had been in years, PC/Nametag immediately mobilized to rethink what life would look like going forward.

The manufacturing of personal protective equipment came first, including face shields and hand sanitizer. It also produced signage for store and business doors about safety protocols for entry and adhesive social distancing signs for floors. Meanwhile, it also distributed nitrile gloves, reusable face masks – both three ply and N95 – and infrared thermometers.

And while PC/Nametag is still manufacturing protective gear, its top seller has since become its virtual event kits.

“There was still this need for people to get together – which saw the rise of virtual events, webinars, seminars – people want to feel connected,” Evans said. “That really spawned conception of virtual kits.”

Virtual event kits can include materials such as branded notebooks, face masks or water bottles that can enhance the experience people have during an online event, even if it has to be from home. The sky’s the limit for the kits, Evans added, where every client picks just what they want included.

The fully customized kits are mailed physically to all virtual event attendees with items pertinent to that event whether it’s for an employee appreciation party or a corporate sales kick-off.

“It’s a way to delight people – the kits just show up in the mail – it’s perfect for that personal connection to come through,” Evans said. “People have been so creative, it’s been fun partnering with that creativity. After a challenging year, we have been able to offer that excitement – which is exciting and rewarding and really went back to our core.”

Some of those creative items PC/Nametag has started to provide in its virtual event kits include bags of popcorn, hot cocoa-making kits, Moscow mule-making sets, customized jackets and yoga mats, Evans said.

The future is virtual, she said. This virtual environment may not go away for business meetings or corporate events, even after social distancing mandates end.

“I’m really proud of how we have navigated this,” Evans said. “We’re prepared either way, positioned for whatever way the market goes. We’re really set up to do different things. What we have positioned has really taken off.”

Neal Patten can be contacted at neal.patten@wcinet.com.