One of the larger UV light sources. (Light-Life UV Solutions/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

One of the larger UV light sources. (Light-Life UV Solutions/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Pandemic forces Surrey-raised food truck operator to switch gears — to UV disinfecting

The business might become an ongoing one even after the pandemic ends

When the pandemic quashed any large gatherings last year, Brian Jones and his family made an unexpected pivot from running food trucks to fighting COVID-19.

The Jones family operates five food trucks, selling a variety of foods from barbecue to crepes at fairs, festivals, and movie sets, but in March 2020 all of those were suddenly cancelled and closed down.

By the summer, the Jones family were back in business, still on the road and using the trailer that had served as their commissary to haul UV light sterilizing equipment.

“It was quite a bit leap, I’ll tell you that,” Jones said.

“We’ve operated as a family food truck for 20 years,” he added.

They started as “carnies,” heading out on long trips to big fairs, including the Calgary Stampede and the PNE. “We used to operate out of Surrey, as it was where I also grew up, then moved to Langley,” Jones noted.

In the last few years, their focus has become more local, mostly film sets, schools, and Lower Mainland events.

“The one commonality was groups of people,” Jones said. And groups of people were absolutely banned.

The trucks were idled, and couldn’t even find semi-permanent locations to set up, as bylaws were slow to catch up with the new emergency.

“I thought, I need to switch gears,” Jones said.

His family has a science background – Jones was trained as a kinesiologist and his wife is a nurse – and he wondered if there wasn’t something he could do that would actually help with the pandemic.

He looked into various sterilizing technologies, and within a few months, he had settled on UV light.

UV light can kill bacteria and viruses on surfaces, and it’s used by health organizations like Fraser Health to sterilize hospitals and care homes under some circumstances. It was used at the Langley Lodge as one aid to bringing last year’s deadly outbreak under control.

A trailer that had served as the travelling commissary for the food trucks was re-decalled with the new firm’s name – Light Life UV Cleaning Solutions – and the Jones family was back at work by last September.

He said the biggest demand for UV cleaning has come from realtors. They’ll go in as part of a cleaning crew in between the sale of a home and when the new owners take possession.

The crew includes his parents, with Brian Jones Sr., 77, who hasn’t yet slowed down, taking on a lot of the work with hand-held units, Jones said.

With the loosening of some restrictions and the resumption of filming, the family’s food trucks are back in business as well, but Jones said the new UV business might be permanent.

Even after the majority of people are vaccinated and the pandemic has receded, people may see things differently, he said.

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