I started hearing about coronavirus in early January via the U.S. media. I do have some friends from China, and one of them is actually from Wuhan. I inquired with them as to what was really happening in China, and they indicated it was a serious situation. The rumors—of the entire country of China being shut down and people being dragged out of their homes—were true.
As January came and went, and February passed, there was certainly a large disconnect between what was happening around the world (particularly in Asia and Europe) versus what was happening stateside.
Through technology and globalization, the world is smaller than ever before. Even though the U.S. government and media might have been a little late reporting the seriousness of coronavirus, industries with supply chains tied to China have much more up-to-date information from their suppliers.
Locally, the “world” as we knew it changed March 16 when Los Angeles County issued an order to prohibit group events and gatherings, required social distancing measures and closed many businesses. A couple of days later on March 18, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order. What transpired that week raised a whirlwind of questions as we tried to figure out what these orders meant for us and for our employees. Are we an “essential” business? What’s the definition of an essential business and who is defining this? What are our customers and vendors doing?
We had daily management team “meetings” to ensure all our employees were safe and our team had the resources they needed to operate safely and produce quality products. We were constantly engaged with our customers and suppliers as we evaluated supply chain needs. We really tried to over-communicate with everyone to provide peace of mind and assurance during this turbulent environment.
In California, we prepare for natural disasters like earthquakes. As a manufacturer of dietary supplements, we do prepare for various contingency plans (emergency evacuation plan and cyber threats, for example). However, I don’t believe any of us had really prepared for a global pandemic and the speed at which everyone would need to adapt.
As we’re two months past the initial stay-at-home order, all of us are undoubtedly facing a new normal. From a personal perspective, I think we’ve all seen how such a tragic global event can also bring out the best in humanity. The environment is healthier, families are coming closer together, and the true human spirit of giving and togetherness has come out. Unfortunately, these things have come at a human cost.
From a business perspective, this is one of those black swan events that will test the strength of a company. Those who can evolve their business models and understand what the new normal will look like should be able to survive and grow. Those who do not change because they believe things will go back to normal will have a much more challenging time.
As a company, we have certainly evolved and adapted our operating and business practices, and we’re looking at long-term changes to our business. More importantly, however, we found our team to be exceptionally strong and resilient through these difficult times. We came together and pivoted resources to manufacture and donate hand sanitizers to first responders and those in need in Southern California through our initiative called “We Are With You.” We are leveraging technology to allow for long-term telecommuting for our team members. We are finding ways to simplify and focus our business to deliver improved value to our customers. Additionally, we are actively monitoring the economic impact of COVID-19 to anticipate shifts in market demand and consumer behavior, trying to stay ahead of the curve.
In times of crises, we’ve certainly seen the best of humanity. As the world opens back up, we certainly hope all the good that has come from this unprecedented global event will continue.
Eugene Ung, CEO of Best Formulations, has been in the dietary supplement industry for over 20 years and has deep experience and knowledge in executive management, strategic operations, manufacturing, product development, marketing and regulatory affairs. As CEO, Eugene oversees the overall strategic direction of the company, focusing on customer relationships, product innovation and employee development to grow Best Formulations into the industry’s leading contract manufacturer. Eugene graduated with a B.A. in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University and is a founding board member of the Nutrition Industry Association West.