A Port Carling teen and Wilfrid Laurier student is putting his knowledge and experience to good use to ensure people are properly protected amid COVID-19.

Cole Starkman was attending his first year at Laurier when the pandemic caused the school to shut down back in March, forcing him to return to his Muskoka home.

A Business student, Starkman, says he wanted to use his skills to contribute in a positive manner – and after seeing a lack of Personalize Protective Equipment, he developed a business plan, and as a result, PPEonDemand.ca was created.

After seeing the aftermath of the pandemic and a lack of resources, the 19-year-old says he just wanted to make PPE more accessible for all.

“Especially for small businesses that I know don’t have time to source this kind of stuff and obviously it’s absolutely necessary and pretty much mandatory for most businesses to bring back their employees and their customers in a safe manner and that was pretty much the focus.”

PPEonDemand.ca offers all the basic PPE necessities from 3-ply masks, K-95 masks, hand sanitizers, to face shields, and they also offer company branding.

Starkman says early on, the biggest obstacle they faced was sourcing for materials for their products.

“People went nuts for any PPE needs,” he said. “So, that was definitely the biggest struggle, and I would also say time. I could be working on this 24/7. Obviously, you have to sleep, you have to do other things, and it can be difficult because I can put 16-20 hours a day into this and it’s still not enough.”

Starkman notes that while he’s proud to be able to give back in this way, he really had no plan to start something like this until the pandemic began and likely would not have needed to, if not for COVID-19.

With plans to go back to University in the fall, he says that he is constantly looking to hire other students who can help share the load of responsibilities.

“Especially as we move forward, I need someone to take on the responsibilities that I have since obviously I won’t have as much time to put in. But yeah, we’re always looking to hire, whether it’s in a small role or a more committed, long term role – we’re always looking to add to the team.”

To find more information about the company or to buy some PPE – you can head to the companies’ webpage