While business has completely pivoted for many, our clients are stepping up to the plate with machines, equipment, staff, and hearts ready to help.
Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” As the coronavirus pandemic rocks the world and puts many people in difficult, unforeseen circumstances, it is comforting to know that there are helpers all around the world who are committed to making a difference.
Among these helpers are several KLR clients. While business has completely pivoted for many, our clients are stepping up to the plate with machines, equipment, staff, and hearts ready to help. We caught up with several of our clients recently to hear how they are opening up their businesses in ways they never have before. Here are their stories.
Blount Small Ship Adventures
When Blount Small Ship Adventure’s Vice President Peter Palumbo realized that the prospect of the 2020 season was looking unlikely, he knew he had to come up with some way to stay afloat. It was then that the idea of the “floatel” blossomed.
Charitably minded Peter, with the help of his mom, decided he would make both the Grande Caribe and Grande Mariner cruise ships available for medical staff and first responders as temporary isolation housing, as ongoing health concerns for families of frontline workers surface in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The ships are set up to safely house 60 workers in private staterooms, with food, cleaning services, heat and AC included.
While things are not necessarily ideal for Peter and Blount, he is grateful for the opportunity to give back. As he says, “If our efforts support the greater good. I’ll take that as a win.”
Matunuck Oyster Bar
When restaurants were ordered to close for dine-in services, a few employees at Matunuck Oyster Bar had an idea...since schools were also ordered to close…why not offer free lunches to students? As owner Perry Raso reflects, “Many students depend on school lunches, and when that’s not an option, what can they do?” Throughout March and April, the restaurant has passed out thousands of free meals to students, and has expanded their program to include elderly individuals and those in need.
As Perry says, “We have the people, talent and equipment, and we are built to produce a lot of food, so why not support the community if we can?”
In addition to this, the restaurant is also open for regular take-out service, and has delivered meals every other week to hospitals in Rhode Island’s South County.
Ocean State Job Lot
Ocean State Job Lot has ramped up efforts to use their global supply chain to source critical supplies, and immediately provide them to front-line workers. OSJL contributed more than $250,000 to this effort, while customers continue to donate at the register toward the cause. They have donated over 525,000 toward their goal of donating one million masks to front-line workers.
In addition to raising money for healthcare workers and donating food, they have been able to donate tablecloths and fabric to local mask makers, as communities face mask shortages. They donated enough fabric to make over 1.5 million masks.
The best reward, though, has been the reaction from the community. Chief Marketing Officer, Paul Conforti recalls a letter from a veteran who said, “I cried as our car was being loaded [with food]. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
At Cooley Group, economic implications of the pandemic have forced some of Cooley Group's regular customers to pull back on their orders. Luckily, with the creativity and flexibility of their team, Cooley is responding to the changing environment by expanding their medical and healthcare product offerings to contribute to hospitals' desperate demand for personal protective equipment (PPE). One of Cooley’s main initiatives throughout this crisis has been to develop and mass produce certified surgical medical gowns for hospital workers.
Cooley Group has shipped materials to fabricate over 5,000 gowns for Children’s Hospital of Boston, Boston Medical Center and Louisiana State Hospital among others.
As Ron Markovsky, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer says, “While this is a difficult time to keep a business up and running, our new initiatives have given us the opportunity to continue producing, retain all of our staff, and keep our machines running while simultaneously being able to give back…what’s better than that?”
“When we were open, we were a big part of the community,” says Mark Malinowski, Vice President of Global Marketing for National Amusements. When theaters were ordered to close amid the pandemic, Mark and his team knew they had to do something to support their community and come out of this situation stronger.
Up to 1,000 people each day are able to get tested for COVID-19 in the parking lot of National Amusement’s Showcase Cinema location in Lowell, MA. As Mark says, “At a time like this, everyone is pitching in to make things work….and we thought…why not offer what we can?”
This initiative is part of a larger campaign National Amusements has started, “Superheroes Aren’t Just in Movies,” which aims to pay tribute to doctors, nurses, sanitation staff, EMT workers, pharmacists, grocery store workers, teachers and more, who are keeping things going in this uncertain time. Supporters are encouraged to post pictures dressed as their favorite movie hero and tag the everyday hero in their lives. These submissions will be pieced together to create a special pre-show trailer that will run in Showcase Cinemas nationwide when they reopen.
The initial reaction from Matouk, a high end linen manufacturer in MA was to contribute bed and bath linens to hospitals and organizations in need. As the weeks went by, Matouk realized that more and more people needed masks….so they started to retrofit production to make reusable sanitary masks.
Since then, they have produced over 95,000 masks throughout their facilities. They have been able to send masks to a variety of hospitals and organizations in need, including Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., where their first batch of masks was sent.
Additionally, to support Providence Public Schools pandemic response, Matouk has donated 50,000 reusable cloth facemasks for the reopening of schools this fall.
As Carly Schaeder, Associate Marketing Manager says, “This is something that makes us feel a little bit better during this time. We’re extremely grateful for all of the individuals on the front line and we’ll continue to support them as best we can.” Carly says as soon as the need was presented to them, the Matouk team was researching mask patterns and materials, and finding out how quickly they could get them out the door.
In the early stages of the crisis, AOTCO’s President Matthew Smith says he and his team didn’t know what to expect. While it was determined early on that the metal plating company is an essential business, Matt knew that business was going to be very different for AOTCO in the wake of the pandemic.
As soon as the company knew there was a shortage of emergency response equipment, they set aside a portion of their capacity dedicated to producing ventilators, hospital beds, blood transfusion equipment, and more.
Another main initiative has been creating hand sanitizer. As Matt says “Once word got out that we were making our own hand sanitizer, we had inquiries from the police and fire departments, first responders and all kinds of organizations in need.”
Since then, they have donated well over $25,000 worth of sanitizer to charitable organizations, nursing homes, homeless shelters and first responders. They are also now producing commercial quantities of sanitizer to assist companies as they reopen.
They have also started selling the hand sanitizer with a “buy one, gift one” policy, where every purchase provides a bottle to someone in need.
“We have the capacity to make these things, and there is a continued need for our services. We love doing our part to help make things a little easier.”
“It’s certainly a different time for travel,” says Mike Vendetti, Director of Property Safety and Security at Collette Tours, a vacation and tour company based in RI. Although the company has pivoted operations due to travel restrictions and having to cancel tours both internationally and domestically, they have been committed to giving back despite the setback.
The Collette team has joined forces with the cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls, RI to support the CFP BEAT COVID-19 initiative, which aims to reach out to thousands of residents in the two cities to ensure they are healthy, have emergency supplies and know who to contact should they need help.
Having worked as a firefighter for twenty years, Mike is no stranger to helping his community, and is grateful that Collette has joined this initiative. Collette has contributed man power, office space, cleaning care packages and masks to help develop and kick-off this initiative.
International Packaging Company
International Packaging Company (Interpak) switched operations to concentrate on manufacturing face masks amid COVID-19 concerns. As Erin Kilmartin, Marketing and Creative Director at Interpak reflects, “We have been giving back for years, and once we learned that we could create masks, we were working with our sewing department that day on a plan to help during this crisis.”
They’ve been able to create more than 5,000 masks and face shields, which they have distributed to hospitals, soup kitchens and anyone who needs them.
They also recently shipped a quantity to McAuley House, a homeless shelter in RI. Erin says Interpak employees love making the masks, and doing their small part to make a difference.
As the saying goes, “When strangers start acting like neighbors, communities are reinvigorated,” and we are so proud of our clients and their selfless efforts to get our communities through this trying time. “Everyone has to pivot and adjust in this time,” Erin says, “Eventually we’ll go back to where we were, but for now it’s nice to be able to give back.”
Thank you to our clients for making us #KLRProud!