A local film special effects company has pivoted to create mobile handwashing units, and business is pouring in.
Our special effects team has been known as the ‘problem-solving guys’ and we will continue to come up with practical and safe ways to assist our community in any way we can. – Lisa Kutcher, co-owner, Clean Hands Solutions
When COVID-19 struck this spring, Slidell residents Lisa and Matt Kutcher’s special effects company, Spectrum Effects — founded in Hollywood in 1993 with a move to New Orleans 11 years ago — was among the casualties.
“Spectrum Effects was as busy as ever, working on six shows filming in Louisiana when COVID-19 struck the film industry and shut it all down,” said Lisa Kutcher. “My husband, Matt, literally can’t sit still. He decided a week into the shutdown to design and build mobile hand washing trailers. So along with our sons, [Matthew James and Zack], Matt went to work in the hopes of having a great final product to assist in getting the film industry and our community in general back up rolling.”
On May 21, the Kutchers completed their first trailer inside their 14,000-square-foot workshops, located on the northshore in Slidell. It took just three weeks to move from concept to the final product. More than just a family affair, the Kutchers were assisted by more than eight technicians in their new business venture, which they call Clean Hands Solutions.
“My husband’s crew is a super loyal and talented group of guys,” she said. “And since they were out of work anyway due to the shutdown, they mainly volunteered their time to help get this up and running.”
As of mid-June, Clean Hands Solutions had 22 Mobile Health Hub trailers, with more currently in production. The trailers are available with 10, 12 or 16 hand washing stations, and feature privacy partitions at each sink, stainless sinks and fixtures for easy sanitization. They can be configured for as many as 1,800 washes or for constant service to provide unlimited washes. It took 18 days for the original prototypes, and another eight weeks for five additional units.
Each trailer, which takes up only the area of two parallel parking spaces, is equipped and ready to be shipped anywhere in the United States, and orders have already been streaming in.
“Any business or event that will be interacting with a large number of people [will benefit from using Mobile Health Hubs],” Lisa Kutcher said. “We have had more requests than we can accommodate from producers in the film industry once productions are given the green light to go, but to our surprise and delight, many other businesses in New Orleans and all over the U.S., actually, such as event planners, have reached out and requested our mobile handwashing trailers.”
The cost to rent the trailers varies by the model and rental time, with weekly rentals, 10-week minimum rentals or 10-month minimal rentals available. The units are also available for purchase.
Clean Hands has used the company’s special effects and film contacts to get the word out, as well as reaching out to wedding and event managers across the area and beyond. Several film productions have already placed deposits to reserve units when filming resumes.
Clean Hands is currently in the process of expanding the model lines, innovating the trailers and fine-tuning the business to provide the safest hand washing experience.
“We are in the process of designing and producing three- and four-station handwashing units,” Lisa Kutcher said. “The first line of defense against the spread of germs is hand washing. I know this for a fact, being a neuro-critical care nurse for over 20 years. Historically, our special effects team has been known as the ‘problem-solving guys,’ and we will continue to come up with practical and safe ways to assist our community in any way we can.”
As Louisiana and the country move toward reopening, Kutcher noted that the businesses will continue with the times.
“We are a family-owned and -operated business just as our special effects company is,” she said. “When the film industry returns, the Kutcher guys will get back to blowing up stuff on set and I will be running Clean Hands Solutions as my primary role. We can help hospitals during their high capacity times. We can help FEMA with rapid response. And when the Saints start, we will be at Championship Square supporting our Saints.”