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How have you helped others during this challenging time? Share your story for a chance to be featured.



How have you helped others during this challenging time? Share your story for a chance to be featured.


Together, we will get our momentum back.


What happens when every event is cancelled? For a company whose main clients are sports teams, tradeshows, and entertainment venues, this question became reality in March.

Brian Adam, President of Olympus Group, realized that his company, the largest producer of custom mascots in the U.S., and a custom large-format printer for major events, would need to find a way to bring in revenue.

By chance, Adam’s college roommate was the Chief Medical Officer at a Milwaukee hospital that was holding impromptu lessons on how to sew cloth face masks with hospital gowns, needles, and thread. His roommate asked: Was there any way Olympus could begin producing cloth masks?

“In the back of my mind, if we aren’t successful with the PPE and the facemasks, I know we’ll have to lay off a bunch of our staff. …Those first couple nights, when this was really hitting me, I was in tears those nights, thinking of having to let good people go,” said Adam on the How’d It Happen podcast.

Adam met with the Head of Infectious Disease at the Milwaukee hospital on a Friday; by Monday, Olympus had made its first delivery of face shields and face masks.

“We’re lucky in Milwaukee. We have this huge manufacturing history and lots of manufacturers, who have much of the needed material just sitting on their shelves,” said Adam. 

However, sourcing was not without its hiccups. Elastic bands for headbands were in short supply. Olympus was initially only able to get pink lacy elastic, that was intended for women’s underwear. Clients were understanding.

If that’s what we could get, great. For two weeks, the facemasks had pink lacy elastic. We did an order for the Orlando Police Department, for 10,000 masks, with pink lacy elastic,” said Adam.

The quick pivot was crucial to keeping revenue flowing, as was a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan for the company’s Milwaukee facility. The loan was obtained through First Midwest Bank.

“The PPP loan has been a game changer for us. It’s given us extra time for planning. We’re pretty fortunate to have a great partner in First Midwest. We’ve worked with our banking team for over 30 years. With the loan and the pivot, I’m 100% confident we’ll make it through the end of the year,” said Adam.

Olympus has produced over 500,000 face masks and face shields, many of them at cost. The company anticipates focusing on cloth face masks for the balance of 2021 and a line of COVID-19 signage and floor graphics to delineate six-foot spacing as businesses reopen. This is the game plan until major events start up again.

While Olympus is fortunate to be able to pivot, dozens of Adam’s client contacts have been furloughed. Adam recognizes the stress of this uncertainty for his employees.

“You can’t overcommunicate. We share almost daily updates, focused on what we know and – more important – what we don’t know,” said Adam. “Communication is the key to employee engagement and building strong relationships.” 

At times like these, fast adjustments are crucial. Olympus remains committed to staying one step ahead.