Experiential marketing and event production agencies have had to retool their businesses to stay afloat during the pandemic, shifting to virtual events full time or manufacturing PPE for healthcare workers and essential businesses. One company in Chicago has become an entirely new business amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Platinum Events, which operated as an event production firm, rebranded as Platinum Sanitation Services to offer businesses a full slate of decontamination services to keep their facilities as safe as possible for workers. The company offers antiviral and antibacterial sprays, antibacterial carpet and upholstery steaming, UV light disinfection, fog protection and window steaming for industrial, retail, medical and educational facilities.
Justin Jacobson founded Platinum Events in 2005, which previously offered event services like stage fabrication, audiovisual equipment, lighting and floral design for conferences, trade shows and events such as the Grammys and CES. Once his West Coast clients began postponing and canceling in late February, Jacobson said he knew it would only be a matter of time before Covid-19 cases would be confirmed in Chicago, and his main priority was to determine how to save his company and keep his staff of 15 employed.
“We needed to make sure we had a service to provide for people that wasn’t a luxury or a want, but a need and a need right now. I locked myself in my office for an entire weekend, slept there and didn’t leave until I came up with a solution,” Jacobson said. “I believed that if my business was there for other businesses and families in times of celebration, it was my obligation to be there for them in times of crisis.”
Platinum had prior experience with sanitizing equipment they’d provide for events, and worked to secure gallons of antiviral solutions and other decontamination equipment, including hazmat suits, to rebrand the business within a week of Jacobson’s decision. But a major step before launching, Jacobson said, was to legitimize the offerings so they wouldn’t be perceived as a glorified cleaning service.
Jacobson said he ensured every service offered met CDC guidelines and was EPA-registered. He then became certified by the Global BioRisk Advisory Board (GBAC) and the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA). Before executing a service for a client, Jacobson said his team had to learn how to properly set up a safety perimeter and track where employees who have tested positive for Covid-19 have been in a certain space.
In the last seven weeks, Jacobson said his company has decontaminated nearly 2 million square feet of industrial and manufacturing facilities in the Chicago area. But his company is also beginning to score clients nationally, including private medical facilities, hotels, schools, summer camps and conference centers. Jacobson said so far around 50% of his clients have staff that tested positive for Covid-19, while the other 50% is requesting services to take precautionary measures for when their facilities can open back up.
While his initial goal was to keep as many of his staff employed as possible, Jacobson said about half of his employees left once the new venture started—due to health concerns. But since March, he said the company has tripled new employment.
Once it’s safe to plan and execute in-person events again, Jacobson said he’d like to return to event production while still operating the sanitation business. Properly decontaminating event spaces—and letting attendees know a thorough process occurred—should be a priority for brands and agencies when physical events return, according to Jacobson. But this will have to involve more than just organizers wiping down equipment with antibacterial wipes, he added.
“Without actual knowledge and education in this, you can do more harm than good,” he said. “We actually want to roll out a national plan. Much like you’d see a blue ADT sticker on a door, we want to mark every facility we decontaminate with a ‘Platinum Sanitation’ sign, letting attendees and vendors know they’re walking into a healthy and safe environment.”