It was like any other day for Joshua Bradshaw, until it wasn’t. While getting his order at a fast-food drive-thru, as he had done many times done before, he noticed that nearly every employee was wearing a ball cap. And a light bulb turned on.
Up until then, Joshua, President of Vital Manufacturing and a BCIT Mechanical Engineering Technology alumnus, had been researching protective equipment solutions to help guard frontline workers against COVID-19.
“It got me thinking that we could utilize the brim structure [of the ball cap] to form the basic support of a face shield,” he says. “We quickly got to work making prototypes on our CNC mills and 3D printers. As the product began to take form, we realized that it, in fact, provided a solution for many other industries as well.”
As a CNC machinist with years of experience in mechanical, fluid power, and electrical design, as well as business development and sales, Joshua wanted to use his resources and knowledge to help in the fight against COVID-19. As a small business operator himself, he could empathize with entrepreneurs whose livelihoods were in danger of becoming casualties of a pandemic-induced economic downturn.
“Standing by and watching thousands of small businesses fail was not an option,” he says. “I wanted to provide a solution for restaurants to regain their customer confidence. It was very important to me.”
After weeks of prototypes and patent filing, The Cap Shield was born. The lightweight face shield, which attaches to any standard ball cap or visor brim, is designed to be an added barrier between the wearer and the public to prevent the spread of germs.
Since its debut in the market in late April, Joshua says the response has been overwhelming. Originally designed with restaurant workers in mind, The Cap Shield has proven to be popular in other sectors, too. To date, more than 15,000 units of the Cap Shield were sold in the first week and production is ramping up to produce 50,000 units every week.
For every 100 shields sold, Joshua’s company has committed to donating 10 to volunteer or non-profit organizations in need.
“Business is hard and nothing can prepare you for the challenges you will face as an entrepreneur,” says Joshua, who admits COVID-19 has made the path of an entrepreneur even more difficult to navigate. “A solid foundation is key, and I am eternally grateful for BCIT.”
He says the Mechanical Engineering Technology program provided him with a well-rounded skill set, giving him a combination of a formal education and hands-on practical skills in manufacturing.
“Watching our normal way of life crumble has been a scary and overwhelming experience for all,” Joshua says. “I am so grateful to be able to help during this crisis…and enjoy knowing that my children will be proud of their father.”