Monday, February 6, 2023

Answering the call: Local souvenir company joins the fight against the coronavirus

Bicast’s face shields are manufactured from high-quality plastic sheeting. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Bicast Laser)
Bicast’s face shields are manufactured from high-quality plastic sheeting. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Bicast Laser)

A Toano-based company that makes custom products for historic and tourist areas has “retooled” its operation in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bicast Laser, a family-owned company, is now making protective face shields to help frontline health workers.

Bicast projects they can produce about 2,000 face shields per day, with a goal of 50,000 by the end of April, according to a news release from the company.

“These are trying times for all small businesses. As a manufacturer of souvenir goods, we rely significantly on tourism, and we know we will be facing significant challenges in the coming months,” said Bill Gaertner, the company’s president. “As a family-centered business, taking care of our employees is extremely important to us. The beauty of this plan is that we can provide a needed product and keep our employees working.”

The idea came to the team at Bicast after reading the Gov. Ralph Northam’s message on a small business website.

Northam asked for help in addressing the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“This time of year we normally would be busy manufacturing magnets, glassware and other souvenir items,” said Forrest Harris, Bicast’s vice-president. “However, on account of the dire need for PPE and wanting to help, producing face shields seemed like a good fit. We are fully staffed and have on hand all of the equipment we need.”

The company started in 1989 in Williamsburg.


John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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