Editor’s Note: This article is the second of a five-part series investigating what the cleaning industry is doing in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The first in the series concentrates on challenges facing building service contractors.
Besides the building service contractor segment, manufacturing is also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A heavy burden has been put on manufacturing, especially critical items needed to prepare for and deal with this current crisis. Here’s what five leading manufacturers for the cleaning industry are experiencing and how they are responding.
Steve Lewis is the vice president/president elect of the ISSA board of directors, and is president of Golden Star, a company with a rich history of manufacturing cleaning-related products, beginning in 1908. Golden Star has experienced many obstacles and has overcome them as well.
“Our industry is working 24/7 to try to meet the increased demands of cleaning products due to COVID-19,” he said. “This has put the world in a fight for our lives. Unfortunately, the fight is just beginning.”
He said that, as with every ISSA-member manufacturer, distributor, and BSC, they are working overtime to meet the demands to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, in all facilities, but with priority given to health care facilities.
Manufacturers realize that much must be done to unite in this fight against the pandemic.
The Clorox Company
“All of our lives and businesses are impacted by this global pandemic, and we must work together to combat it,” according to Christine Vickers Tucker, a manufacturer director on the ISSA board of directors, and the vice president/general manager of both the Professional Products Division and the Laundry Division of The Clorox Company. “As members of the cleaning industry, we are on the front lines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and it is imperative that industry and health care professionals are equipped with all the necessary knowledge to ensure the safety of staff—education is power.”
Her company is responding to provide the cleaning and disinfecting products that are critically needed, with a focus on making as many disinfectants as possible and getting them where they’re needed—quickly.
Vickers Tucker recommends that those working in the cleaning industry educate themselves on COVID-19 and how they can best protect themselves while on the front lines.
“While health care experts have endorsed social distancing as much as possible, we understand that some cleaning professionals must remain on the front lines to help keep essential facilities and their patrons safe,” she said. “If you are still going into a facility, we recommend cleaning professionals follow the WHO and CDC’s tips on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Ailene Grego is a distributor director with the ISSA board of directors, and president and CEO of American Formula, a cleaning supply manufacturing company that has seen a huge increase in the obvious: Hand soaps and all kinds of sanitizers and disinfectants.
“Manufacturing is working weekends to keep up with demand. We are beginning to manufacture hand sanitizer and hand soaps that we haven’t manufactured before to help those that cannot source products from the larger manufacturers,” Grego said. “I believe this will get worse before it gets better.” She cites a “desperate need” of these types of products, including sanitizers, disinfectants, and personal protective equipment.
Paul Goldin is the immediate past president of ISSA, and is a vice president of Avmor, a cleaning product manufacturer based in Laval, Quebec, Canada. As he said, “The current situation is completely unprecedented, and we owe it to our employees and the communities at large to act responsibly and follow all guidelines.”
Like many companies, Avmor is encouraging office staff and any others who can to work from home. “This has allowed us to offer more physical space for those who need to be in the office and to respect the physical distancing recommendations.”
Bill Hemann is the vice president of sales and marketing with HOSPECO, which manufactures and private labels cleaning products for the industry. He sees the current situation as “unprecedented.”
“It is clear that COVID-19 is going to be a specter for a considerable length of time,” he said. “As such, the behaviors we modify, alter, or otherwise add to prevent the spread of coronavirus must be actions with which we can live with for some time.” He emphasized that urgent and aggressive action is required, which is something the industry seems to be embracing.
To deal with the crisis, the HOSPECO Brands Group immediately sought a leadership position, understanding that information, particularly early and evolving information, was going to be critical to establishing best practices. “On February 5, we launched a single source repository of information, connecting our followers directly to the leading organizations such as the ISSA, CDC, WHO, amongst others.”
For the team at HOSPECO, they are literally working around the clock to ensure products are manufactured and distributed to those in need. “We are advancing internal communications to make sure our valued team understands the role they are playing in this crisis,” Hemann said. “We are hoping our employees and our customers, the frontline workers helping to clean facilities and protect the public, see themselves as essential first responders in this time of need. Their efforts, and those of this entire industry, have one goal and that’s to flatten the curve.”
The volume of HOSPECO factories is secured and in place moving forward, Hemann promised. As far as delivery of products, he said: “We are in a strong position to meet demand.”
Tales of TP
No doubt everyone is wondering, when it comes to manufacturing, “What about the toilet paper?”
“We are deemed an ‘essential business’ as we produce and supply sanitary tissue products,” according to Joe Raccuia, the owner and president of Morcon, a commercial paper tissue company.
“We have seen unprecedented orders the last two weeks for tissue, towel, and napkin products,” he said. His company’s three manufacturing plants, based in New York, South Carolina, and Oklahoma are running nonstop to meet customer demand.
“Our trucking partners have done an outstanding job keeping up with our shipments so far,” he added.
Georgia-Pacific is also running to capacity in order to deliver what is needed for the industry. According to Eric Abercrombie, spokesperson for Georgia-Pacific, they have seen a notable increase in demand for paper products.
“All of our factories are running 24/7, as normal, but increasing production where we can,” he said. Inventory levels across the Georgia-Pacific system remain healthy, he reported, and the company is maximizing the number of deliveries the company can load and ship out of their facilities. Two weeks ago, for example, “Georgia-Pacific locations managed to ship out 120% of our normal capacity.”
Share your thoughts
ISSA wants to hear your voice. Please contact us with questions and concerns and tell us how we can help you in this crisis. Share your own observations and what you are doing to handle this COVID-19 outbreak. What are you doing? How will you cope? How will you move forward when the crisis is over? Share your thoughts.