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By Harrell Kerkhoff, Maintenance Sales News Editor

For everyday life, and business in general, the COVID-19 pandemic created what is known as a “Black Swan Event” — something rare and extreme, an outlier outside the realm of regular expectations, and a carrier of extreme impact.

The global event, which some thought would last just a few months — or half a year at the very most — continues in North America. And although signs of recovery continue, there remains many life and business lessons to be learned from this true Black Swan Event, according to Dirk Beveridge, founder of UnleashWD (

Beveridge presented his information during the recent ISSA Show North America. His educational session was titled, “The Three Pillars of Leading During Uncertainty.”

Beveridge listed other Black Swan Events that have taken place within the past 40 years, testing individuals and businesses alike. They included the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, and the U.S. financial crisis of 2008-2009.

“Each of those Black Swan Events created its own form of crisis and opportunity. They were rare, extreme and people never saw them coming. Such events are beyond the realm of expectations, and in the end, carry extreme impact,” Beveridge said. “COVID-19 is certainly a Black Swan Event. Much of the world seems to have been turned upside down. The pandemic has touched almost all societies, countries, communities, businesses, customers and employees.

“This (situation) is new to all of us (as business leaders), but it’s where we currently find ourselves. My message to today’s leaders is, ‘Keep leading.’ The world needs leaders now more than ever. As the pandemic continues, fatigue is setting in for many people. As leaders, therefore, it’s important to double down. I don’t know if there is anything more important right now than leadership.”

One way to do that, he said, is to use the word “CRISIS” as an acronym that stands for: Calm Resolve Inspires Service Introspection and Strategic Action. According to Beveridge, throughout history, great leaders have led in times of great crisis by using the words in that acronym. Today, he noted, the same is true for first responders battling the pandemic. That includes nurses and doctors working in various health care facilities.

“Each of those individuals didn’t necessarily sign up to be in that moment of crisis, but that is where they found themselves,” Beveridge said. “The same can be said for business leaders. They did not ask to be in a position of leadership — such as a branch manager, sales manager, CEO or owner of a company — during a major pandemic, yet here they all are, being called to lead through this Black Swan Event.”


Through his work with business people called to lead during today’s challenging times, Beveridge has come up with “three pillars” of leadership that can help during today’s uncertainty. He shared how leaders can apply each of the three pillars to inspire focus, commitment, growth and find better results.

“These are three pillars that you and I can lean into, hold onto and be guided by, as we lead during this moment of unprecedented uncertainty,” Beveridge said. “I would not prioritize the importance of one of these three pillars over the other two.”


The first pillar Beveridge discussed focused on “Core Values.” To make his point on the importance of established core values within a business, Beveridge revisited the 1982 Chicago Tylenol Murders, which was a series of poisoning deaths that resulted from product tampering in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Beveridge noted that the late James Burke, CEO of Johnson & Johnson at the time, the maker of Tylenol, was later hailed for successfully guiding the company through the crisis. He did that by focusing on the company’s core values, which stated: “We believe our first responsibility is to the patients, doctors, nurses, mothers, fathers and to all who use our products and services.”

The company’s values led Johnson & Johnson to implement a quick and volunteer recall of millions of bottles of Tylenol capsules on American store shelves. Although it initially cost the company millions of dollars, due to decisive action, Johnson & Johnson later regained its pre-event market share of the product. It also led to key reforms in the packaging of over-the-counter medications and other items.

Beveridge added that leaders can benefit when they focus on the core values already established within a company, especially when tough decisions need to be made.


The second of the three pillars that Beveridge spoke about was the importance of “Shifting Toward Tomorrow.” 

“Now is the time, as leaders, to not only manage for today, but lift your eyes toward that horizon, shift your thinking toward tomorrow and innovate,” Beveridge said. “It may not seem like it now, but like all other Black Swan Events, the pandemic will pass. Think about the financial crisis of 2008-2009. It was followed by 10 years of unprecedented U.S. economic growth.”

As leaders prepare for brighter days ahead, Beveridge shared what he said are five “grounded beliefs” to building for the future. They are:

■ There is no model for this (pandemic). Therefore, it’s important to figure it out together — “If there was ever a time for those teams or groups within your organization to come together, and break down silos, it is now,” he said. “There is no one department, one leader or one person who has all of the right solutions for your company regarding this pandemic. You must figure it out together.”

■ We are all currently looked at as leaders, and it’s now time to lead — “If you are a leader within an organization, you must understand that you are being watched every moment of every day (during these trying times), even if you are working virtually. The same is true with the email you send — everything you do is being placed ‘under a microscope,’” Beveridge said.

He added the same is true for many positions within a business, such as the receptionist, the driver, the warehouse person, the salesperson, etc.

“People are either going to be inspired and learn through your actions, or they are going to be uninspired. Every individual on your team must accept the mantle of leadership.”

■ There is a need to be more strategic than ever before — Now is the time to think about strategy for when the pandemic ends, according to Beveridge.

“The pandemic has changed the way many areas of business will be conducted in the future,” he said. “You must get your arms around the new ‘rules of the game.’ That includes exponential changes with new technology. As leaders, it’s time to become more strategic than ever before.”

■ Seek out, and create, new opportunities — “In crisis, there is opportunity. What opportunities will this pandemic create for your company? Where will the new profit opportunities be for your business?” Beveridge asked. “It’s important to seek those opportunities. Look at areas where other companies are exiting or retreating. That may provide your company with new opportunities.”

For example, he explained that gains can be made in acquiring top employee talent, due to increased layoffs from other companies. There may also be possible gains within areas of supply chain and other parts of business.

■ Now is the time for action over perfection — “If you are waiting to have the perfect plan in place, that fully covers ‘A to Z,’ you may end up waiting too long. The danger is, you could get passed by in the marketplace by your competition,” he said.

At the same time, he reiterated that in-depth strategic thinking, while planning for the future, should continue within an organization.

“The great depth of thought that is necessary for a company to succeed can prove difficult, and is often avoided. It’s common to avoid strategic thinking because it can be hard. The midst of a crisis, however, is not the time to avoid hard topics,” Beveridge said. “It’s important to ask, ‘How do we, as a company, align ourselves with the solutions to tough COVID-related issues?’

“As a leader, it’s important to possess the mindset that focuses on embracing the ‘hard’ that is in front of your company. Remember, hard issues can lead your company to new opportunities. Go after them.”

He added that when tackling hard issues, it’s important to make sure everybody working on those issues, within a company, is on the same page. To make his point, Beveridge quoted Albert Einstein, who said, “The rigor with which a problem is defined is the most important factor in finding a suitable solution.”

“As leaders, make sure you properly define the problems that need to be addressed; and remember, ultimately, a decision (on any hard issue) must truly be made in order for a company to move forward,” Beveridge said. “There is also the realization that somebody must own that decision.”


It’s been a tough 12 months — for everybody. That certainly includes each company’s workforce, which leads to Beveridge’s third pillar: “Lean Into, And Embrace, Your People.”

“As leaders, we feel the weight (of the pandemic). And as leaders, we all need to recognize those on our teams who we are responsible for, and who also feel that weight,” Beveridge said.

He quoted American entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who said, when speaking on the importance of taking care of employees, “How we treat our workers during this pandemic could define our brand, and company, for decades.”

Many employees have had to work from home during COVID-19, Beveridge added, creating additional pressures and stress. They may also be worried about their future with a company, anxious about their economic livlihood and concerned with their personal and family health.

Beveridge noted a study conducted by Dr. Jeanne Hurlbert, of Hurlbert Consulting, on the effects that Hurricane Katrina — another Black Swan Event for many people living along the Gulf Coast — had on residents of the New Orleans area.

The study found that there were seven indicators of depressed mood, resulting from the hurricane, that did not qualify as clinical depression. They were: 1). Feeling an inability to “get going”; 2). Sadness; 3). Trouble sleeping; 4). The feeling that everything “was an effort”; 5). The inability to “shake the blues”; 6). Loneliness; and, 7). Trouble focusing on a task.

According to Beveridge, Dr. Hurlbert also observed that 18 months after the hurricane, depressed mood for many of those in the study was still an issue. However, she found that the more help a person received while working through the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina, the lower his/her instances of depression.

“Think about your employees who have had to work from home, while also trying to help other family members work or go to school from home. Many people have struggled with this new way of working, and new way of life,” Beveridge said. “As leaders, you must find ways to help and inspire your people, while also providing insight and connectedness. As leaders, you must lean into, and embrace, your people. It’s also important to have empathy, and understanding, with what your customers are going through.

“Again, remember the acronym CRISIS: Calm Resolve Inspires Service Introspection and Strategic Action.”

The Dow Jones Sustainability™ Index, EcoVadis, Corporate Knights And CDP Award Essity Top Accolades For Sustainable Business Practices And Innovations

Global hygiene and health company Essity announced it was recognized by four leading indices and benchmarking organizations for its commitment to sustainable business practices and innovation. As the manufacturer of the leading Tork and TENA brands, and other strong brands such as JOBST and Leukoplast, Essity's sustainable products, packaging, and operational and process innovations help shape a more sustainable future for the company, as well as the industries and customers they serve.

Essity's mission to improve well-being though innovative hygiene and health solutions is complimented by its equal focus on reducing negative environmental impacts and minimizing its carbon footprint. The following accolades highlight Essity's global sustainability efforts:

• Dow Jones Sustainability™ Index: Essity was included in the 2020 Dow Jones Sustainability Europe Index Household Products category, receiving high scores for its environmental and social reporting, as well as its work with suppliers, brand work, innovation and climate strategy. The Dow Jones Sustainability Europe Index tracks the performance of the top 20 percent of the 600 largest European companies in the S&P Global Broad Market Index℠ that lead the field in sustainability.

• EcoVadis: Essity was awarded a Platinum EcoVadis Medal for its 2020 Scorecard submission, marking its third consecutive year receiving the organization's highest honors. The result placed Essity among the top 1 percent of the 75,000 companies assessed by EcoVadis across environmental, labor and human rights, ethics and sustainable procurement impacts. EcoVadis is one of the world's most trusted providers of business sustainability ratings, intelligence and collaborative performance improvement tools for global supply chains.

• Corporate Knights: Essity was once again named one of "the world's 100 most sustainable companies" by Corporate Knights. The "2021 Global 100" list represents the top 1 percent of companies in the world in terms of sustainability performance and this year, Essity ranked 63rd on the list. Corporate Knights Inc. publishes the sustainable business magazine Corporate Knights and includes a research division that produces rankings and financial product ratings based on corporate sustainability performance.

• CDP: For the third consecutive year, Essity was one of 16 companies named to CDP's prestigious “A List” for tackling deforestation in its supply chain, sourcing sustainable materials and taking a leading role in managing carbon and climate change risk. CDP is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts.

"Sustainable development, production and commercialization standards are at the core of our business and we're proud to be recognized globally for our commitment," said Don Lewis, president of Professional Hygiene at Essity. "The public is now focused on hygiene and health and is using our products more than ever before. As we look to the future, our innovations in hygiene and health solutions will help everyone contribute to a more hygienic, healthier world and a more circular society. We are excited to be part of that.

“Essity contributes to a sustainable society by focusing on improved resource efficiency and reduced carbon footprint across the entire product lifecycle for hygiene and health solutions for all brands. By 2030, Essity commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from purchased key raw materials, transport, waste generated in operations and end-of-life treatment of sold products by 18 percent — both from a 2016 base-year.”

For more information, visit or

ACS Hires Director Of Sales-Foodservice

ACS Industries, Inc., Lincoln, RI, has hired Robert Sophie as director of sales-foodservice. He will be expanding foodservice sales nationally in distribution, chain accounts and retail for ACS’ Cleaning Products Division. Sophie has 20 years' experience as a leader in the foodservice industry. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

“Sanitation and safety are, more than ever, top priorities for foodservice operators. Immediate focus will be on the growth of ACS’ Color Coded Program of mops, brooms, squeegees, scouring pads and brushes that help reduce and/or eliminate cross contamination in foodservice establishments.”


U.S. Battery Manufacturing Updates AGM Battery Line With New And Improved Performance Deep-Cycle Design

U.S. Battery Manufacturing has launched its new and improved line of AGM Deep-Cycle batteries, specifically designed to provide increased deep-cycling performance.

“Our advanced line of AGM Deep-Cycle batteries have features that improve cycling performance and longevity, which make them a better choice for customers wanting maintenance-free reliable operation,” said Zachary Cox, U.S. Battery vice president of operations.

The new AGM Deep-Cycle batteries are available with updated features such as the use of thick positive alloy grids for exceptional corrosion resistance, high-density positive active material, and advanced glass mat separators. These components work together to maintain the battery cell structure during deep-cycling, limit acid stratification, and inhibit internal shorts.

The batteries also feature a carbon-enhanced negative active material that improves charge acceptance and cycling performance. In addition to being resistant to vibration, fully sealed, and maintenance-free, U.S. Battery’s new AGM design improves reliability, overall performance, and delivers longer cycle life.

In addition to these design upgrades, U.S. Battery’s AGM Deep-Cycle line will also have a new look, featuring a new case and graphics on redesigned labels. On top of the current 6V, 8V, and 12V models, the product line is also expanding to include new 6V and 12V options.

“More of our customers are asking for high-performance deep-cycle batteries that are maintenance-free and cost-effective alternatives to lithium,” said Don Wallace, U.S. Battery COO. “We’re responding with engineering that delivers the superior performance and reliability needed for modern battery-powered equipment and vehicles.”

U.S. Battery’s complete line of AGM and Flooded Lead-Acid Deep-Cycle batteries are available for a wide variety of applications such as EV Golf Car & Utility, AWP, RV, Marine, Floor Cleaning Machines, and Renewable Energy.

For a complete list of sizes and applications, visit the U.S. Battery website at

DDI System’s Latest Product Release Includes Advanced Functionality That Empowers Distributors To Elevate Operations

DDI System announced the release of Inform ERP Software Version 22. The release supports DDI’s commitment to continually strengthen distribution technology through streamlined workflows and operational effectiveness. DDI’s market-aware feature set, customer engagement tools, embedded eCommerce, and Warehouse Management support more than 1,100 North American wholesale distributors competing in today’s transformational marketplace.

Inform ERP Version 22 offers dozens of new features. Drag and drop scheduling adds warehouse transfer shipments alongside customer delivery orders using Inform’s unique Truck Manifest. Track daily and operator picking status and completion rate for both warehouse transfers and customer sales orders on the Order Picker Progress screen.

Inform’s redesigned make-to-order assembly/fabrication display embeds kit components in line with the container product. In the components grid, each user customizes his/her display to add new editable fields with an easy-to-use column chooser. New make-to-order features make assemblies easier than ever with the ability to create new component items on-the-fly and procure kit components directly from order entry.

With an emphasis on helping distributors to differentiate themselves from the competition, this product release integrates with Mailgun to send and analyze email campaigns crafted directly in the ERP. Inform Marketing Manager builds targeted lists based on customer sales history and standard customer attributes and provides a simple HTML email editor to craft graphically-rich messages complete with product images and links to your eCommerce site.

Inform WMS continues its evolution with dozens of new features and enhanced functionality, including priority notifications to alert staff of new orders, paperless picking for stock transfers, and a redesigned home screen for speedier navigation. Numbered shortcuts allow for direct access with as few keystrokes as possible. WMS Receiving includes support for warehouse transfers, updating line-item receipts in real time. New warehouse operations performance metrics analyzes the number of orders and line items picked or received, segregated across sales orders, transfers, and purchase orders. Duration is recorded to calculate individual and overall time performance.

DDI's latest software upgrade rolls out more than 300-plus improvements and new features in an unprecedented, user-friendly experience.

“DDI System is laser focused on delivering technology that drives operational excellence for wholesale distributors,” said Adam Waller, co-founder of DDI System. “We’re especially proud to have something for everyone in this release, including market-specific workflow improvements, role-specific dashboards, and dozens of enhancements that speed up customer order handling. I don’t know of another solution that combines CRM, a high-performance sales order system with content import, advanced product demand management, easy-to-use analytics, report creation, and a truly connected, hybrid eCommerce platform.”

To register for upcoming live product demonstrations, or to set up a personalized consultation to discuss your business goals, please visit or call 877-599-4334.


RJ Schinner Promotes Tim Scott To Senior Vice President Of Purchasing & Corporate Strategy

RJ Schinner Co., (RJ Schinner), a premier redistributor to the commercial wholesale trade, has promoted Tim Scott to senior vice president of purchasing & corporate strategy.

“Tim Scott has a careers worth of experience in our industry, experiencing success on many levels,” said Ken Schinner, RJ Schinner president. “His knowledge and relationships have developed through the years, and put him in a great position to oversee our category and purchasing teams. Tim will play an integral role in RJ Schinner’s continued collaboration with key suppliers as we continue to stay on a strong path of growth and success.”

For over 65 years, RJ Schinner has been selling non-food disposables to the commercial marketplace through distribution. The company currently has 19 locations servicing the United States.

Rob Carey Joins Kutol As Western Regional Sales Manager

Kutol Products Company has named Robert Carey western regional sales manager. Carey is now the primary contact for the western region, supporting the sales activities of Kutol’s independent rep groups, wholesalers and distribution partners. In addition to conducting sales and product training, he works closely with buying groups, and attending industry-related trade shows to grow Kutol’s Health Guard® and Kutol® Pro product lines.

“As we move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic, and continue to meet the country’s hand hygiene needs, we are excited to have Rob on our team as a strong presence in the western region,” said Mark Aylmore, national sales director for Kutol Products Company. “Rob brings a strong customer development perspective to this position, which is significant for the continued growth of our core business.”

Carey joins Kutol with 10 years of territory and customer management experience in the jan/san industry. Most recently as the regional sales director for Geerpres, Inc., he was responsible for initiating new business growth and developing customer incentives. Prior to that, Carey was with RB | Reckitt Benckiser, Inc., as a customer development manager.

KUTOL Products Company, founded in 1912, is a manufacturer of quality commercial hand soaps, hand sanitizers and soap dispensing systems under the Health Guard® and Kutol® Pro brands. The company’s hand care products include foaming and liquid hand soaps, antibacterial soaps, hair and body washes, industrial hand cleaners, and foam and gel hand sanitizers. Many are NSF registered, Green Seal™ certified, USDA BioPreferred® or EcoLogo approved products. The company manufactures its products in Sharonville, OH, in its LEED Silver Certified, FDA-registered facility. Visit for more information.


Triple S Adds 5 New Members

Triple S, a member-owned distributor group that provides marketing, procurement, and logistics solutions to independent distributors, has announced the addition of five new members:

• Coastal Chemical & Paper, Lee Grant, Wilmington, NC;

• WJ Office, Neville Chaney, Boone, NC;

• Oliver Distributing Company, David Oliver, Covington, VA;

• Cavalier, Inc. Bruce Heller, Norfolk, VA; and,

• Quartermaster Facility Supplies, LLC, Aaron Anger, Indianapolis, IN.

“All our new members have access to our RDCs and our network of suppliers. In addition, they have access to our Partners in Protection Reopening Plan, Gateway Facility Assessment App, and the Strategy & Leadership Executive Learning Program.

Triple S is a member-owned distributor group that provides marketing, procurement, and logistics solutions to independent distributors. For more information, visit

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