One of the first things to start flying off the shelves at supermarkets due to Covid-19 panic, even before toilet paper, was hand sanitizer. According to The New York Times, the shortage across retailers and Amazon has pushed people into a panic to make their own. Except many of the DIY recipes aren’t effective. Then there are the people who have hoarded thousands of bottles of sanitizer to up sell it online for a ridiculous price. However, Amazon has been cracking down on the third-party price-gouging of health and cleaning supplies over the last few weeks.
EO Products, who is the parent company of EO and Everyone, was ahead of the curve when it came to anticipating the demand for hand sanitizers. If you aren’t familiar with EO they approach hand sanitizing and washing as a sensory experience. The brand is known for adding essential oils to their products making the process of keeping clean more enjoyable.
Due to Coronavirus outbreak, their production of hand sanitizers has quadrupled from the end of January to mid-February and then again from mid-February until now for an overall growth of 16x. “We are changing our production rates daily if not hourly,” says Tom Feegel, President of the brand. The EO Products headquarters and production facilities are located North of San Francisco, one of the hot spots for the Coronavirus outbreak. Although the area is under shelter-in-place, EO Products was granted an exemption from the shelter in place because they are deemed essential services. They currently have two thirds of their employees working from home while the others are working to produce more and more hand sanitizers and soaps. “The brand is running extra shifts, speeding up production lines, hiring temporary workers and converting factory lines designed for other products, to meet the increased need for hand sanitizer as it’s top priority,” said Feegel.
Super Spike Protocol
Even before the first reports of Coronavirus in the US, EO had been anticipating a high demand for their products. “Our strategy team is constantly monitoring all kinds of data points from weather to social trends and so on because it can effect our supply chain. We also look for trends in Asia and all over the world because we globally source our raw supplies. In the very beginning of January when the first news of a breakout came from the Wuhan province in China, we started to monitor how we were going to amp up our supply chains and production,” explained Feegel. At the time, there was very little coverage on the virus in American media nor had it been detected in Western countries. “When we saw that our direct site orders increased by 1,300% in mid-February we knew that was indicator of what was going to happen in the retail and mass distribution space,” continued Feegel.
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Since then it has been all hands on deck to meet the production capacity with a commitment not increase prices or cut corners on the quality of the products. The one thing that truly has prepared EO Products is the deployment of their Super Spike Protocol which according to Feegel has never been deployed. It was a program created after the H1N1 virus impacted America in 2009. That outbreak had a massive impact on EO Products which caused a surge in their production. “We learned a lot then that we are using now as far as keeping our people safe, how to engage with the government to access the best and most accurate information and how to plan and to scale our distribution to met demands,” said Feegel. “But this outbreak is in orders of magnitude compared to H1N1. We have never seen anything like this and the only reason we have been able to keep up with demand is because of our robust supply chain. We had to activate our Super Spike Protocol which is where we purchase raw materials from our suppliers in advance and bring it on site then we can increase capacity without running out of supplies,” explained Feegel. This protocol also includes reviewing EO Product’s forecasts on a daily basis to keep up with demand which is changing daily if not hourly.
They have continued to see a demand for sanitizers and hand soap increase daily, along with the order frequency and volume from their retail partners which includes Walmart, Walgreens, Amazon, Albertsons, Whole Foods, Sprouts and Target. Luckily, they do not find themselves blocked or delayed by long contract manufacturing lead-times some of their larger counterparts are facing. “Although we have had a massive increase in our regular retail partners, we have also seen a massive spike in new types of customers such as ride share groups, government run businesses an the airlines,” said Feegel. “They are buying in one month what they would typically buy in a quarter.”
EO Products isn’t anywhere close to running out of supplies, but they are trying to keep up with the increased demand. Along with shipping product to their distributors daily, they are trying to restock their site with sanitizers and soaps. It has been selling out almost instantly though as tens of thousands have signed up for restock alerts.
EO Products is hiring temp workers and expanding production to try to get over the hump of consumers not finding product online or in stores. “We understand its frustrating going to several stores and even sites to see that hand sanitizer or soap is completely out. We are doing our best to meet current demands and to hopefully get to a point where there is no shortage whether it be at our retail partners or on our site as this is a public health necessity,” said Feegel. EO is also doing their part in donating soaps and sanitizers to homeless shelters, a dedicated Lyft program, firefighters, policemen, hospitals and more. For EO making sure everyone who needs sanitizers and soaps is a top priority from the brand while keeping their employees safe as we all try to flatten the curve.