FACILISGROUP’S REBOUND-20 REVEALS KEY THEMES FOR MANAGING THROUGH THE UNCERTAINTY AND DEVELOPING A ROADMAP FOR SUCCESS
SAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI, June 24, 2020 – The rapid spread of COVID-19 triggered many event cancellations that adversely effected the promotional product industry, and Facilisgroup's annual Partner Summit and Supplier Showcase, previously scheduled to take place this week in Nashville, TN, was no exception. The tough decision was made to postpone the highly anticipated event. With no "How To" manual on working through a pandemic, we were left trying to find a solution to the question, "How do we build and strengthen our community, an integral part of who we are as a company, if we can't be together?"
Fast-forward a couple weeks and the concept for REBOUND-20 was taking shape at Facilisgroup. The event, spurred by a virtual townhall featuring Jeremy Lott, President of SanMar, and CJ Schmidt, President of Hit Promotional Products that was already on the calendar, expanded to a phenomenal four-week-long virtual event with daily virtual sessions hosted by both esteemed industry leaders and members of Facilisgroup's leadership team. REBOUND-20 centered on bringing our Partner community together to discuss managing through the uncertainty, identifying new opportunities and developing short-term and long-term roadmaps for success.
Several main themes emerged over the course of REBOUND-20, organically connecting the dots and reinforcing them with statistics and health guidelines,
experience-based anecdotes and various industry case studies. While this pandemic is unlike anything our speakers or our community have been through before, the multitude of great minds and combined years of industry experience developed solid predictions and started thoughtful conversations. Some of the key takeaways heard throughout REBOUND-20 include:
Potentially the over-arching theme of the entire REBOUND-20 series, innovation has been the topic of conversation at many promotional product companies over the past few months. A focus on innovation moving forward will be key in leveraging business opportunities to create future success. Jeremy Lott shared that his company holds an annual State of SanMar meeting with a different theme each year. SanMar's theme for 2020, in the wake of COVID-19, is "In times of crisis, average companies fail, good ones survive and great ones transform." This thought process shows just how powerful innovation as an action item can be for a company, especially during uncertain times. In fact, Chris Anderson, CEO of HPG, names innovation as the force that propels companies forward.
Facilisgroup's own Ashley McCune, President, and Liam Conlan, VP of Technology, walked the community through an innovation report emphasizing just how closely related innovation is to future success. Facilisgroup defines innovation, one of our core values, as turning an idea into a solution that adds value, but more importantly, staying relevant in the midst of change. Today, Facilisgroup focuses on adapting to deliver the
same value to our Partners in this different world by staying true to our pillars: community, supply chain and technology. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Facilisgroup has held Partner-focused townhalls, provided COVID-19 updates and resources, worked with Preferred Suppliers on inventory and special offers, introduced credit card integration and developed five new templates for our Partners' websites, in addition to hosting REBOUND-20.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Moving forward, product quality and safety will be at the top of consumers' lists. With regard to the jump to selling PPE, quality is absolutely essential. As Jonathan Isaacson, Chairman and CEO of The Gem Group, put it, "PPE is not the same as a stress ball. If a stress ball goes bad the risks are relatively low, if you have a problem with PPE the risks are much more consequential." As for other more traditional promotional products, such as pens, antimicrobial properties, single-use products and individual packaging will be the wave of the future.
The emphasis on quality over quantity is expected to be mirrored on the business side as well. For many companies, full-time remote work didn't seem like a possibility prior to COVID-19. As the world begins to open back up, the ability to work from home will be an asset for both employers and employees. Chuck Fandos, Chief Strategy Officer for the Pebble Group, mapped out a remote hiring and training strategy as part of his comprehensive guide to reimagining. Looking ahead a few months, he states, "It's going to be a better buyer’s market for hiring than it has been in twelve years. There's going to
be quality people who are out of work." The opportunity to hire quality people or search for job openings outside of one city or country will increase competition and give both parties the chance to find the best fit.
If we've heard it once now, we've heard it a hundred times, "What got you here will not get you there." This adage could not be truer than it is now, in the midst of a pandemic and the resulting recession. Rich Berg, VP of New Business Development at Facilisgroup, sums up the new normal as a "reset of priorities, personally and professionally for everyone" and highlights the importance of taking into consideration all of the changes your customers have gone through lately as well as the changes their customers have gone through and how that impacts your client's business.
Chuck Fandos highlighted culture and communication as part of the business plan he delivered. He emphasized the importance of looking at your company culture from several different standpoints and asking others, including employees and clients, how they view your culture. Many of our Facilisgroup Partners have projected their strong company culture outward by giving back to their communities and taking care of their employees during this time, from donating money and food to finding ways to keep employees on during the shutdown.
Matthew Lamb, Executive VP of Development, in his session on managing through
uncertainty referred to a recent interview he listened to on leadership with Ben Horowitz, "Culture is not your beliefs, it's your actions. It's a shared set of behaviors...it's what people do when nobody is watching." Going along with this sentiment, David Nicholson, President of PCNA, pointed out that companies who have gone out of their way to help others in some capacity during the pandemic will be in a much better position moving forward than those who have not. Times of difficulty put company culture to the test.
During his interview, Paul Bellantone, President and CEO of PPAI, pointed out the distinction between what we call "social distancing" and what we're actually practicing as a society. He adds on the important of maintaining connections and shared experiences, "We're talking about physical distancing as it relates to keeping people separate and safe and healthy, but how do we still drive social engagement in that environment?" Chuck Fandos dives further into the importance of personal touches, recommending creating proactive plans for clients and their future projects, keeping open communication via mail or packages sent to a home address and, finally, not assuming that communication and ordering will go back to normal anytime soon.
CJ Schmidt talks about their venture into KN95 masks and the hoops Hit has had to jump through to get product from China, even from their heavily vetted manufacturers, including US and Chinese packaging regulations, FDA and CDC regulations and transportation hang-ups as a result of the ongoing trade war. David Nicholson foresees
an accelerated decline of globalization, due to increasing tariffs and continuing political battles and policy changes, as our supply chain sees a shift from interdependence to self-sufficiency post-COVID-19.
Jonathan Isaacson says in regard to the calls to completely remove production from China and how that would disrupt supply chains, "It is going to be very difficult to completely decouple from China, and it's probably not good for the world either." Decoupling would bring about many challenges, most importantly finding alternative locations to manufacture and distribute a majority of popular promotional products.
Hosting a brand-new type of event, virtually, in the middle of a global pandemic was a big risk. Fortunately, our Partners confirmed that it was a valuable experience in terms of the content and inspiration delivered, as well as how it reinforced the heart of the Facilisgroup community.
“Thank you for making this content available to Facilisgroup members. It was such a great way to get re-energized for what’s to come!” Mikhael Reed, Eskimo Joe’s Promotional Products Group
“This was such a productive use of my time. I created a reading list and action list from what I learned in the REBOUND-20 sessions. Great way to increase morale and provide insight into the industry.” Nicole Delatinsky, Shippam & Associates
"Nice to have a partnership that collaborates by sharing stories, experiences and ideas." Michelle Lapp, Full Line Specialties
All in all, we had participants from 85% of our Partners join us, with 575 total registrants. Thank you to our Facilisgroup Partners, Preferred Supplier presenters and industry leaders for joining us. REBOUND-20 wouldn't have been as impactful without the engagement and willingness to learn displayed by our attendees. We are excited to see our Facilisgroup community come together in Nashville next summer for our Partner Summit and Supplier Showcase June 14-17, 2021!
Facilisgroup is dedicated to delivering business growth for our supplier and distributor partners. By focusing on three distinct principles – Community, Technology, and Supply Chain, our company has become the market-leading business platform and technology services provider. We leverage our industry expertise and technology to deliver significantly increased sales and reduced operating expenses all under our Partner’s own brand identity. Facilisgroup is headquartered in St. Louis, MO, with offices in Ottawa, Canada.
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