Impact Apparel switches gears to new products

Impact Apparel switches gears to new products

The masks Impact Custom Apparel of Cumberland made for graduating Cumberland High School seniors.

CUMBERLAND – Within days of the state mostly shutting down businesses, John DeDonato and Impact Custom Apparel on Industrial Road saw 90 percent of orders canceled or put on hold.

The company’s three largest customers canceled 100 percent of their orders, said DeDonato, during the March to June timeframe where the company typically does about half of its business.

With youth and recreational sports off through August, many of the orders that Impact typically does, such as 100 hoodies for the high school track team, are no longer needed.

“That business is gone now,” said DeDonato. “They’re not competing.”

His own daughter wasn’t able to compete in track and field for her senior season, he said.

Impact laid off 13 people, but all have now been hired back with the acquisition of a federal Payroll Protection Program loan.

In the midst of the worst of it, said DeDonato, he kept hearing from his manufacturers that they were making masks of all kinds and other items related to the pandemic. Using the processes already in place, he and his team moved toward new items, including masks and floor decals for carpets and hard surfaces telling customers where to stand when they’re in a store.

“It was a redirect,” he said.

Customers for the new items, including Del’s, The Keep, the Albion Fire Department, Anchor Fence, and Gator’s Pub, began to pour in. Then came requests for lawn signs, which have taken off as graduations and birthdays have been canceled.

“It’s been crazy with the lawn signs,” said DeDonato. “It’s little Joey’s graduating 5th grade and going to middle school.”

Impact also made custom masks for Cumberland High School students for their individual graduation ceremonies happening this week.

Colleges, including Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island, had prepared artwork for signs and banners, he said, and he’s worked with them to incorporate it into the items.

Business is still probably 40 or 50 percent below where it should be, said DeDonato, but the company is seeing growth in new areas.

“I’m hopeful that we’re going to see people get back to something normal,” he said.

Some of the social distancing floor markers created at Impact Custom Apparel. The company has shifted to new items as clothing orders have dried up.