Jeremiah Winkler ’93
Today’s SJA Shining Stars are Jeremiah Winkler ’93 and the company he works for, DIY Media. During the pandemic, the company switched to making affordable PPE face shields and provided employment opportunities at a time when many companies were laying off employees.
Based in Pennsauken, New Jersey, DIY Media’s focus is helping artists, authors, filmmakers, and other content creators get their content to market and monetize it through items like CDs, DVDs, USBs and other media. The company started around 75 years ago as Disc Makers, which is still a sub-company of the group. Jeremiah typically works with Disc Makers and is a Manager/Team Leader within the Customer Support Department. He has been employed by the company for 21 years.
When the pandemic hit, our sales dropped drastically overnight. Like a lot of other companies and industries, we were faced with making some tough decisions pretty quickly. Three or four days into the shutdown, our CEO Tony van Veen and his wife, Farina, were watching the news, and saw a story about how companies were pivoting toward making emergency products needed for the pandemic. Tony’s wife wondered out loud if DIY could do something similar. By the following Monday, we had a prototype made and a basic plan in place to begin manufacturing and selling face shields. Within another week’s time, we had product to market, and could not keep up with demand.
With their usual business model, they had the material for the face shields readily available, which was not the case for other companies hoping to make the shift to manufacturing PPE equipment.
DIY Media sought out current employees who were willing to assist with assembling the shields, as their core work demand was so low. Jeremiah was one of the people who stepped up to help by going into the plant to make face shields. Jeremiah chose to go in, as he wanted to help however he could during this challenging time. He stated, “I thought our company did an outstanding job of keeping a safe environment for everyone. It felt good doing my part for the effort.”
At a time when many companies were not able to keep their employees, DIY Media was able to bring in dozens of outside temporary help and since then has hired six of these individuals as new full time employees. They have sold nearly 900,000 face shields – vital PPE utilized by health care organizations, schools, food service, manufacturing, retail, and other businesses and organizations to help keep essential employees safe.
DIY Media has added Amerishield as the newest brand under their umbrella and the design has evolved since the start of the pandemic.
Thank you to DIY Media for discovering a way to provide drastically needed PPE throughout the pandemic to help keep our communities safe. Thank you to Jeremiah for working outside of your normal area and comfort zone to be a part of the effort and for sharing this story with us.