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Laguna Beach

 Volume 13, Issue 5  |  January 15, 2021


After closure, company founded by Laguna Beach friends makes medical face shields for local hospitals

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Cerno was founded in Laguna Beach in 2009 by childhood friends Bret Englander, Daniel Wacholder, and Nick Sheridan. The company is known for designing and manufacturing high-quality modern light fixtures, however, since their closure due to the coronavirus, they have taken up a new task.

Ten Cerno employees, plus Daniel and Nicholas, are now volunteering and making medical face shields to be donated to local hospitals. They made 900 on Saturday, March 28, with 9,000 to follow. 

How Cerno started

Carol, Nick’s mother, explains how the company got started, “Three young children grew up in Laguna Beach, attending elementary school, then on to Thurston Middle School, and then Laguna Beach High School together all the while remaining good friends, surfing, boogie boarding, skim boarding, sailing, traveling in an RV across America. They went to different colleges: Daniel graduated from UCSD with a major in engineering, Nicholas graduated Cal Poly with a degree in architecture, and Bret graduated from Boulder with a major in journalism. 

“All the while retaining this close friendship, together they started a company called Cerno, specializing in high end LED lights, which began in a workshop ten years ago located on Laguna Canyon Dr. It later moved to Irvine and now as their staff increased to over 50, they purchased a building in Aliso Viejo.” 

Co-Founder and Director of Sales and Marketing Bret Englander explains how they transitioned into making the face masks, “When the COVID situation escalated so fast, and there was article after article about there not being enough PPE, ventilators, and other medical equipment, we starting asking how we could help.” 

After closure Hall

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Submitted photo

Cerno employee Kevin Morris volunteers to make face shields

“Initially, we were researching if our team and facility would be able to assist with more robust equipment like ventilators. Daniel tirelessly researched where we could make the most significant impact in the quickest amount of time. The barriers and challenges involved with creating ventilators were far greater than something relatively simple but in high demand like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Daniel landed on face shields and spoke with his father-in-law Dr. Paul Brower, and his dad, Dr. Myron Wacholder, a retired ER physician who queried their colleagues. Everyone agreed that the face shields were a good place to focus our efforts.”

Daniel Wacholder says, “Everyone has something they can contribute to this fight. We saw a need to make something, and that is what we do. How could we pass on an opportunity to protect someone on the front lines with less than a dollar in material and 30 seconds of labor? Another great argument for supporting domestic manufacturers. People who can make things are good to have around during disasters.”

Search for raw materials

Englander expands, “Since Cerno’s inception, we have always focused on distilling products down to the essential parts and materials to prioritize form and function. This project was not too different; however, functionality was paramount because this equipment is meant to protect healthcare providers on the front lines. Daniel and Nick designed a product using open-source forums online and by leveraging the capabilities of our team and facility. The first roadblock was that most materials going toward PPE were already sold out. Cerno’s ingenuity came into play with the simplicity of the design but also in creative sourcing of the materials. We started looking in other places for the raw materials and were able to secure material to make approximately 10,000 face shields. For one of the parts, Nick strategically tested a Spandex type of material that we use on one of our light fixtures, and it worked well.” 

After closure assembling

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Submitted photo

Kevin Morris assembles face shields

Englander also gives credit to a supplier who helped make this all possible. “Plastic supplier Professional Plastics gave us a generous discount when they found out how we were planning on using the materials.”

Cerno designed and presented the initial prototypes to practicing physicians at a local hospital who validated that the design would work. Cerno made a slight modification to extend the length of the shield to add extra protection, and on Saturday a select group of Cerno employees volunteered their time and made the first 900 face shields. 

Fellow Cerno team members lend a hand

“In addition to Daniel and Nick making the shields, they were assisted by fellow Cerno team members Kris Englebright, Oscar Rodriguez, James Cusack, and Kevin Morris,” says Englander. 

Sheridan says, “Our team’s work ethic this week was really inspiring. The added stress of the situation and long hours with a skeleton crew was already a challenging week. For our team to volunteer their time over the weekend to make the face shields was impressive. I am proud of our team, and it was rewarding to be part of this effort, knowing we are helping to protect the real heroes on the front lines.”

Materials donated

“Cerno is not looking to profit off this effort. Initially, we were looking to cover our cost, but then Dr. Myron Wacholder and his wife Marolyn generously decided to donate all of the materials needed to make the face shields, and we decided we would give the shields to local hospitals,” adds Englander. “Dr. Myron Wacholder also has picked up the material and is now helping to deliver the masks to local hospitals that are already running out of their supply. 

“Daniel spearheaded this effort, but without the help of so many people jumping in to assist, it would not have been possible. We realize that our contribution to this global crisis is small, but we hope that it inspires many more small manufacturers around the county to help where they can, and the collective effort makes a real impact.”

Cerno / Revelite is located at 22892 Glenwood Dr, Aliso Viejo.

For more information, call (949) 715-1534 or go to https://cernogroup.com/who-we-are/.

 

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

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