During this time of special precautions and unique needs amid the coronavirus, new stories are emerging, showing how Regions and its teams are taking extra steps to serve. In our “Above and Beyond” series, we’re highlighting some of the most recent examples.
The arrival of COVID-19 has created harsh new realities for businesses across the nation. The recovery will not be quick. It will not be easy.
At the same time, fighting the pandemic has offered a chance for many companies to reinvent how business is done. Here are two examples of smaller suppliers that found a new purpose as they help businesses and communities battle COVID-19.
Miami, Florida: Plant-Based Disinfectant Comes to the Rescue
One of the hottest commodities for people and businesses alike? Disinfectant. Lots of it.
eL3 Increase is a minority-owned company based in South Florida, built around meeting this need for business clients. Since the pandemic began, the products eL3 distributes have found new users as more companies evolve and enhance their cleaning procedures.
Brett Couch, head of Corporate Real Estate & Procurement for Regions Bank, was shopping – at a social distance – in a Florida market when he saw a worker spraying down buggies and people’s hands. He asked about the name of the disinfectant, then reached out to colleague Marcus Lundy, manager of Supplier Diversity for the bank.
The more they looked into the disinfectant, the more they liked it.
“Regions Bank is committed to supplier diversity. This is a reflection of that commitment,” Lundy said. “In this case, it was an easy decision. The efficiency of the product is great. It’s plant-based and offers the benefits of plant-based products.”
Mario Bailey, a native of Lanett, Alabama, moved to Miami a few years ago. He now leads sales for eL3 Increase.
The company distributes Bioesque Solutions.
“The more I learned about Bioesque, the more I realized how much we could help people in the middle of this pandemic,” Bailey said. “People are going to have to return to work and, rightfully, they’re worried about safety. It’s botanical, meaning it’s naturally based with no harsh chemicals.”
The fact that Bioesque is not only effective but plant-based means a lot to Bailey. He is from Chambers County, an East Alabama locale that was one of the state’s first hotspots.
“My sister is on the frontlines, administering drive-up tests back home,” he explained. “In Chambers County, a number of people have passed at the church my grandmother attends. When you go into business, you want to feel you’re doing something with purpose.”
Regions now uses Bioesque to protect corporate facilities and essential associates. “Regions was the first major company to make a large purchase from this new, minority-owned business,” Bailey said. “Funny thing is, Regions was my first bank when I went to the University of Alabama.”
Cullman, Alabama: A Quick Pivot to Face Masks
Founded in 1987 as a family business, HomTex established a reputation for creating quality bedding, pillows and linens out of its Cullman, Alabama, base.
Then came COVID-19, putting the business’ future in doubt.
“Jerry and Jeremy Wootten, our owners, were looking at the pandemic and wanted to find a way to use our infrastructure to help our community during this pandemic,” explained Maury Lyon, vice president of HomTex Apparel Division.
With 150 workers in Cullman, as well as plants in South Carolina and Tennessee, the Woottens quickly looked at pivoting to fill an immediate need – and keeping their employees working – by restructuring to produce a washable, reusable mask that provided the necessary protection. The reusable “Dreamfit” masks include built-in BFE-95 filters, making them efficient, affordable – and effective.
HomTex’s production line currently produces 200,000 of the BFE-95 masks per week. And thanks to the investment by the Woottens into several large disposable mask-producing machines that will be added to the facility in June, the company will be able to produce 350 million disposable masks a year alongside its reusable mask production. “We believe it will make it the largest unit capacity currently in the U.S.,” Lyon explained.
The Woottens are of Native American descent. When they founded their company, no one knew the role it would end up serving as the world unites in battling the common enemy known as COVID-19.
Regions’ Lundy, who worked with HomTex to secure masks for frontline bankers and other associates who are unable to perform their work functions from home, said that “not only were the Woottens able to get reusable masks, but millions of reusable masks, made in the USA. They’ve truly been a lifesaver.”
While most Regions associates continue to work from home, “we continue to need a significant number of masks for portions of our workforce: frontline branch associates and essential workers,” Lundy said.
With HomTex’s capacity increasing by the day, Regions has ordered 1.3 million masks in anticipation of more associates returning to the workplace as conditions warrant.
“When we transformed our plants from home furnishings to protective face masks, everyone in our plants felt a tremendous pride in being able to provide products that could help.,” Jerry Wootten said. “Our plant personnel have truly put in a tremendous amount of extra energy and effort to help protect our country, and we are so very proud to be associated with hard-working textile workers.
“We are also so proud to be associated with great institutions, such as Regions Bank, that have stepped up to protect their own employees and the citizens they interact with daily. At HomTex, we can’t begin to express our appreciation and respect for Regions Bank.”
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