In the 1967 classic film "The Graduate," young Benjamin Braddock, played by Dustin Hoffman, is given advice by a friend of his father's in a cocktail party scene.
"I've got one word for you, Benjamin: Plastics," the older gentleman tells the sardonic, recent college graduate.
Amid the pandemic, those words of advice probably apply more than they did in the late '60s. That's a concept being embraced by a pair of cabinetmakers from Andover — Deanna and Stewart Junge of Landmark Finish.
As their commercial and residential clients began shutting down kitchen and office projects in March and April due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, the Junges realized they had to make a switch while still using their design and manufacturing skills.
"Projects are shut down now," said Deanna, who has co-managed the company with her husband for 20 years, 13 of which have been at 12 Dundee Park.
"We sold cabinets to a client, but their contractor's not working," said Stewart Junge. "Plus, I don't want to be in somebody's house. It would be awkward for us to show up. The hit we're going to get is coming up, so we had to get this work in queue."
It all started with something Stewart Junge saw on TV.
"I saw this news clip of a guy standing behind a makeshift, plastic barrier," he said. "As soon as I saw that, I realized, that's going to be the new norm. So we started brainstorming -- what can we do?"
They realized that both during, and more so after, the height of the coronavirus crisis, there will be an ongoing need for stable and attractive barriers to keep customers safe from potential infection.
After a lot of research into materials, as well as the potential market, the duo landed upon an acrylic product that is safe, stable, attractive and adaptable to different office, retail and even manufacturing uses.
"There has to be a lot of people in the space and we looked at who's got to go back to work first," Stewart said. "I sent a pitch to our bank because bankers have to work" even though lobbies are currently closed.
While their banker loved the idea, they haven't signed an order yet, he said.
Deanna said the company finalized an agreement on Friday with Bangor Savings Bank for 210 units that will be used on desks and in lobbies.
"For us, that's a nice-sized order," she said, adding that Salem Co-Operative Bank just agreed to buy 25 of the units for teller windows and desks.
The company has also sold to other establishments, including a retail store in Orlando, Florida.
"Our strategy is that we are targeting businesses that are going to open first -— banks, restaurants, retail, takeout areas," she said. "The word is getting out there."
While many convenience stores and sub shops have placed plastic sheeting or flimsy barriers on their counters, the Junge's say what sets their product apart is design and craftsmanship.
"We've taken time to research the competition," Deanna said. "Our standard is 24-by-36 inches ... Ours are a quarter-inch thick while most others are one-eighth of an inch."
She added that the legs are taller and wider, giving every unit stability.
The acrylic base can be affixed to a surface with either double-sided tape for a temporary barrier, or screwed into the surface for a more permanent structure.
"A lot of people we are talking to are saying they see this as temporary, which doesn't need to get screwed in," she added.
Stewart noted that with banks, the idea is to keep employees separate from the customer, once they reopen lobbies.
"If you want to sit with a branch manager," he said, one of the acrylic shields could be secured to a desk, keeping the employee safe from the customer and vice versa.
They said they have also been approached by an electronics assembler whose employees work close together. Shields could be placed between the employees to prevent the spread among workers.
Another potential client is a hair salon, where both workers and customers could be separated from one another with one of their larger barriers.
"The pivot is perfect," Steward Junge said, noting that it's playing to their strengths while also helping others. "We are adding value to banks and other spaces" so they can stay open.