CLEVELAND — Whether it be through food or displays of encouragement, Northeast Ohio has shown time and time again an outpouring of support for medical workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. A local business owner and Navy veteran is also contributing his talents in the best way he knows how: by building.
Joe Burdick, the owner of Burdick Custom Flags, left his job as a home builder two years ago to go full-time with his business. While 2019 was a solid first year of business, Burdick was expecting 2020 to be even better.
"I was building up the inventory for that," Burdick said. "The coronavirus really put a damper on what I do."
His four to five orders a week have slowed to four to five orders a month as more people are clamping down on their discretionary spending. Each one made-to-order, Burdick's ornate wooden flags are purposefully distressed to represent the trials and tribulations the country has gone through. The metaphor is quite appropriate amidst a national pandemic.
"I make my flags to be imperfectly perfect, just like our country and just like each one of us," Burdick said.
In addition to styling his wooden flags to honor police officers, firefighters and veterans, Burdick has also created new designs honoring medical workers that feature a thin red line that bisects a white background. Despite the fact that his business has been impacted by the coronavirus, Burdick has been donating the medical worker flags to doctors, nurses and area hospitals.
"It's my way to give them a gift from all of us. If we don't tell them or show them that we can, eventually they are going to sit back and say, 'is this even worth it,'" Burdick said. "Whether it is a police officer or a veteran or a nurse, I think it's important for us to recognize the people that are doing the things that we're not doing to keep us safe."