Like many other small businesses in Ontario, Tyler Langlois and his partner Sean McKinistry, found out that March 2020 was going to change their business.
Langlois and McKinstry purchased the Engraving Shoppe business located on the north end of North Bay near the old Widdifield secondary school building in 2018.
At that time, a big part of their trophy business took a huge hit when COVID-19 shut down schools, sports, and sadly crippled many small businesses.
"Sports, athletics and the academics with the schools was probably about 25 per cent of what we did back then," explained Langlois.
"Normally March and April are ramp-up months for us where we start to do athletics for Canadore and Nipissing along with a bunch of other schools and then it runs right into the school season with graduations. In March of that year, we basically heard from all our contacts that - even the ones that emailed in orders had told us to hold off. No winners were determined all of that stuff. That 25 per cent went to zero pretty quick."
But, as many small businesses have learned during the pandemic, that meant it was time to carve out a new business path.
"We do a lot for industrial clients that was sort of the 'behind the scenes' part of our business," explained Langlois, a North Bay native.
"So many people just know us as the trophy shop. We do quite a bit for local mining companies and trades as far as labels, identification on metal, plastic or stainless steel. We use our laser engraver or etcher to do that stuff and we do a lot of stickers and labeling for those same clients."
Langlois explained they had purchased some equipment from a supplier which gave them the ability to create custom signage and vinyl decals.
He says the demand for COVID-19 related signage really picked up in March of 2020.
"We had this urgency to try and replace that loss with something new, and at the same time that kind of presented itself where we started doing that or decals, window graphics, and pairing that with what we already did with the laser machine and that was kind of a big save for us just on the day to day side of things it kept us busy, learning and growing, " said Langlois.
After this pivot, Langlois now manages the industrial side of the business, which provides laser etching and cutting solutions for mining and the trades.
With the business back on track, he is hoping the return of sports and graduations will make things even bigger and better at the Engraving Shoppe.