November 4, 2020

Who is going to win the Presidential election?

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Donald T. Trump in his victory speech early November 4 in a close race with Biden claims that now is the time to “Make America Great Again” and do whatever it takes to combat COVID-19, get the economy back and American’s working again. With the Republicans winning the House and already with the Senate majority, Trump should have no problems getting his agenda issues passed. Now the question becomes, what is next for the Democrats and what is next for the American people. And the rest of the world wants to know as well so they can once again allow American’s into their country.

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Joe Biden in his victory speech early November 4 in a close race with Trump claims now is the time to get America back on track and for all American’s to come together once and for all. With the Democrats losing the Senate and already the House majority, Biden will have difficulties getting his agenda issues passed. First up will be tax increases to corporations from 22% to 27% and most likely tax increases to individuals based on income levels. However whatever fiscal measures Biden wants to put in place will be very difficult based on the more than $4T in stimulus spending already this year.

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Now that the election is over and the results are in, what really changed? We have more questions than answers. What is life going to be like in 2021 and afterwards?

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I just finished reading The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larsen. It details the life of Winston Churchill from 1940-1941 for one year. It was a very good read especially during these times. You learn how France was defeated, how Italy took sides with Germany and declared war with England and the U.S., and how the U.S. finally got involved. One thing for certain, Churchill was a key figure in the Allied victory. But even in victory, the number of years that England had to endure daily bomb strikes and the total devastation were terrible. Every night was black-out night, no lights allowed. We have no idea how lucky we are to be living in a free country even with COVID-19. I don’t know about you, I much prefer to wear a mask, social distance and give up some of life’s perks than worry about being bombed every night.

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Polls are so interesting. In all my years, Gallup has never contacted me. And if they did, I am not sure if I would tell them the truth or give them an answer based on popular opinion. That is why Biden’s double digit lead doesn’t mean anything. One thing is for certain: Go back four years ago and at this time, all everyone talked about was the election. Today all anyone talks about is COVID-19 and how it is affecting their lives. We are all looking forward to the day that we can get together with friends and/or family and talk about normal things like “Did you try out that new restaurant?”

Happy Tuesday!

COVID-19: Not Another Stephen King Novel

Do you wear a face mask when you go out in public?

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It’s summertime. My favorite time of the year. One reason is that I get to read a lot of books due to long summer nights. I read the latest from Dean Koontz, Devoted, about dogs that are telepathic and relate to humans (his Jane Hawk series was perhaps his best); John Grisham’s Camino Island about a bookstore owner and mysterious deaths; and of course, a couple from James Patterson that are just fun reading. I’m currently reading The Most Fun We Ever Had by first time writer, Claire Lombardo which is quite the chick book (hey, always good to get more perspectives in life). The book details a family over a fifty year span and is quite good. It might be fiction but I am sure it more real than not.

COVID-19 is non-fiction and a book that right now has no ending in sight. In fact, this book could last through the entire decade. Most likely 2021 is going to fare as bad as 2020 with false hopes coming and going. With CA’s Governor, Newsom,  pretty much shutting down everything yesterday (all salons, gyms, religious buildings, bars, restaurants), it is only a matter of time before other states follow including AZ, FL, NV and TX. NV has already shut down all bars except those in casinos. But hey, is anyone going to a casino to lose money wearing a mask?

Summer was going to be downtime for COVID-19, everyone thought it hated heat. But nope, Brazil, Mexico and other hot spots are all hot spots. And what happens when October comes with the real flu season?

As this novel keeps getting longer and longer, we must sit and wonder why is the USA the most affected country in the world? Why does Florida have more cases than most countries with the exception of two?

With November 3 seemingly right around the corner, who is going to be our next president? Face masks or no face masks will win. Face masks appear to be the hero and the villain in regards to COVID-19. In Michigan, the Macomb county Sheriff department stated they are not enforcing Whitmer’s requirement to wear masks. Employees seem to be threatened daily by customers who do not wear face masks. I don’t get the drama, it is proven than face masks save lives. We all know when you went to a hospital before COVID-19, doctors and nurses wore face masks. And what the heck,  you can wear cloth face masks with Mickey Mouse if you don’t like the medical blue disposables.

Speaking of those, we just introduced the cutest little purse pouch containing 5 face masks. With cases rising daily and soon to hit 100,000, demand for face masks is going up. Demand for nitrile gloves is going up too and this poses a huge problem because there is a tremendous shortage of them (I blogged about this months ago). Most fortunate I ordered millions before COVID-19 and now TNG has the largest inventory of gloves in the business. We just received new extra long cuff and extra large sizes for our first level providers.

We also have the largest inventory of 70% and 99% ISP and the #1 selling brand of hand soap gallons. However I would give all this up for our main customers to be open for business. I miss my massages, spa days at resorts and although I am back on schedule for weekly mani’s, the experience is not the same. But I will say this: Salons have been doing an excellent job during COVID-19 maintaining cleanliness and adhering to safety guidelines. If anything, salons in CA should be allowed to remain open.

The state of CA gave us a wake-up call. Wear a face mask. Social distance. Sanitize often. If you go out, be responsible. We all want to have fun and enjoy summer. But if things don’t change and we don’t wake up now, book reading will go well into 2021 as a thing to do. Delta CEO Ed Bastian told us today that he doesn’t expect air travel to get back to normal for at least two years (yes, at least two years). YIKES!

Happy Tuesday!

Out Of My Mind On A Tuesday Afternoon

How has your dining experience been since restaurants have reopened?

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It seems like every company has decided to tip their toes into the PPE market because of demand and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, like playing Texas Hold’em, you have to be prepared to go “all-in” to win and that is exactly what I have done. Recently, we opened the first stores focused not only in beauty products but PPE and our customers are loving them. Just yesterday, we opened our third TNG WORLDWIDE COMPANY STORE in Shelby Township, just north of 21 Mile Rd. on Van Dyke.

The press is loving them too. We were recently featured on NBC’s Detroit affiliate, WDIV, you can watch here. And we were featured on ABC’s Detroit affiliate, WXYZ, you can watch here. It is so great to assist small businesses of all types as we all grapple for success in the post-pandemic economy.

Speaking of the economy, the NASDAQ keeps hitting new highs while the DOW is only about 10% below its peak. With record unemployment, record bankruptcies and record number of small businesses not even opening, you wonder how this can be. The answer is pretty simple actually. Look at the companies that have broken out: Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Zoom, Wayfair and other tech stocks that have excelled during these trying times. Mind you many resorts and hotels have yet to reopen. Travel is still down upwards of 80% and in Michigan, gyms are finally opening this Thursday. Detroit’s three casinos are still closed with no opening date announced.

Salons that I have been tracking have all been doing very well even with all the new guidelines put into place. That is good news indeed. Barbers are especially busy because let’s face it, guys have simple needs when it comes to hair. The only category that is still suffering is spas as many destination spas are still closed and those that are open are not offering facials, locker rooms or any relaxation areas (sauna, steam, whirlpool).

With COVID-19 peaking in many south and southwest states, what is going to happen next? Some claim this is the second wave, but sorry, we are still in the first wave. It’s like so many people decided not to participate in the safety guidelines and are partying like it was 2019. Even in Michigan, especially Northern Michigan, many bars, restaurants and golf courses are not practicing social distancing or wearing masks. When the governor of Texas is talking about the remote possibility of closing, you know there are serious issues looming.

Like PPE, I am amazed how many companies got into the hand sanitizer business. Unfortunately for many, they are not following strict FDA guidelines and producing illegal products. The FDA just warned about nine of these made in Mexico. Fact is you have to register your label with the FDA and your products have to be made in a factory registered with the FDA. All our products are made in FDA accordance.

What’s hot right now is our ForPro Infrared Touchfree Dispensers, both counter and wall mount units (and floor stand). These can be used with our best-selling Ginger Lily Farms Botanicals Hand Soap (Fragrance-Free or Apple Pear) or ForPro Hand Sanitizer Gel (ours is pourable so perfect for dispensers).

One thing I have learned during the pandemic is the crazy assortment of paper products that companies make. For instance, with Costco out of stock on many items, we bought Bounty, Charmin and Vanity Fair napkins on Amazon and other resellers. I cannot believe how many configurations Bounty comes in, how many roll sizes Charmin comes in and how Vanity Fair decided to get rid of Impressions and update to Entertain napkins. BTW, Entertain napkins are terrible!

As I mentioned earlier gyms are opening Thursday. I was the first Equinox member in Michigan and love the gym. But truthfully I am not going to rush back especially since I have a great routine at home. I’m going to start with a few yoga classes as those seem to be the least restrictive. But showers, pools and steam areas I am not sure about. And wearing a mask while sweating, no way.

Last tidbit, I used to buy my Perrier, Propel and sparkling water in cans at Costco. Now I have them delivered by Amazon for the same price. Tell me how Amazon can make money shipping Propel 12-ct package for $6.38? It costs us more than that to ship a package that weighs that much, let alone the value of the contents. It’s no wonder Amazon is cleaning up and keeps hitting new highs.

Happy Summer!

TNG WORLDWIDE Transformation Completed

TNG WORLDWIDE Transformation Completed

How excited are you to go out for dinner at a restaurant?

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TNG-NEW_logo_FINAL_2020

If Harvard Business Review did a case study on TNG WORLDWIDE, readers would not believe the story. I lived through the story and still cannot believe it myself.

The coronavirus pandemic came and in a perfect world, this story would have never happened. But the world we live in has never been perfect and life is about dealing with each situation that is thrown at you. This is a true story on how I dealt with the coronavirus.

It was the fateful day, Tuesday, March 17 that I will remember for a very long time. That is when Governor Whitmer shut down the state. Three days later I would have a Zoom meeting with my employees announcing layoffs, pay cuts for salaried employees and store closures. It was a reminder of what happened in 2008-2009 but with much different ramifications.

Just a week earlier I was on the phone talking to doctors about N95 and KN95 masks. There was a tremendous shortage and they needed them. We sold 3-ply face masks for years, but not medical masks. That was the start of our transformation.

The rest of the transformation was expedited from my previous strategy that began in 1991, accelerated in 1997, and fast-tracked in 2015: Sell only TNG branded products. With the shutdown in place nationwide, only essential businesses were allowed to remain open. Due to the fact that TNG already manufactured many essential products, we were allowed to stay open. Products including hand sanitizer, EPA-registered disinfectants, hand soap, 99% IPA and face masks became hot items (and still are and always will be) and we made them all. Because of my relationship with my factories, together we were able to keep up with demand and stay in stock.

It was during this time that each morning around 2:30AM, lightening bolt thoughts would enter my mind and wake me up. These were new ideas scorching my mind and then I would wake up and put them into action. I’m not kidding, it was like living in a science-fiction movie for weeks (and truthfully, we are all living in a sci-fi movie right now).

With salons and spas closed, our business soared selling to first level providers. It was at this time that I truly understood my strategy all along was the right path and then one morning the lightning bolt told me to discontinue all third-party vendors. Not a single one stepped up to the plate to supply me essential products. In fact, none of them stepped up to the plate to supply any beauty distributor. In a crisis, you learn quickly who your real partners are. My customers already knew that TNG was the best company to work with, this only confirmed it.

At this time, I had another TNG employee meeting and this time, told those that we kept on everyone was back to work at full wages (even an incentive added for DC employees) and let’s rock forward. It was a great moment.

It was during this time that I also thought that I needed to transition THE INDUSTRY SOURCE to TNG WORLDWIDE and create a special platform for my most loyal customers. Voila! DIAMOND PARTNER membership was born. It was also the perfect time to update our logo and brand promise. No longer The Beauty Experts (although we always will be), but the new focus was on life’s essentials and comforts. Bam!

My focus then turned to additional essential items my customers needed. Fast forward to today, TNG is in stock on just about every single item, from Non-Contact Electronic Infrared Thermometers, to face shields to face masks to hand sanitizer and next week, touchless infrared dispensers for soap and hand sanitizer. It has been a non-stop whirlwind.

To get the word out to our customers, I created a series of Town Hall meetings to explain the transformation of the company and why we would no longer carry third-party brands such as CND, OPI, Nufree and others. It was in fact the very first meeting in which I was very passionate about my history growing up and how I got into this business and my ultimate pivot of my career.

It was also the meeting in which I was very passionate about the nail industry and I talked about the Vietnamese, how the first generation came to America to start nail salons, how hard they worked and even slept in them because they worked 24/7 and had nowhere else to go. It was then when I talked about the current state of affairs I said some stupid and insensitive things. Luckily, I was called out on it 10 days later and learned first-hand what it is like to be a total idiot and the happenstance when you screw up in social media. It was quite the humbling experience.

The great thing about America is freedom of speech. Another great thing about America is the ability to apologize publicly so you can move on without being prosecuted. I did a live video apologizing and then did a written apology. They say that good things come from bad and in this instance, it was so true. I never did business with Vietnamese salons, for more than 25 years I did business with Vietnamese distributors. This lesson taught me well but it also put me in touch with hundreds of Vietnamese nail techs and for that, I am very grateful.

The good news is that my next few Town Hall meetings went on without a hitch. Listen my loyal readers, I don’t know of any other CEO in the beauty business that has reached out to salons and spas like me and has assisted them not only with their PPE needs, answered hundreds of questions in regards to opening but also very vocal and direct with the direction that the new post-pandemic economy is going to take. If I never opened up, sure, my life lesson would not have happened, but in the end, history will show my passion for my customers comes first.

Last Thursday and Friday were two of my biggest days in business. Thursday, we opened America’s first PPE store, TNG WORLDWIDE COMPANY STORE. It was a grand celebration for our employees and customers. Every customer that entered was given a temperature check, good news is that everyone passed. Then they were given the choice of wearing nitrile gloves or using spray hand sanitizer and face mask (many had their own). And then they were free to shop. It was great to see their smiling faces (I could tell by their eyes) and seeing them buy everything they needed.

Thursday and Friday were the conversion of THE INDUSTRY SOURCE to TNG WORLWIDE and it was a monumental task that eventually went smoother than anticipated. It was all made possible because of our great web and support teams. It was the official transformation of the company!

One last note: We truly have the best employee team in the business. The demands over the past few weeks with air shipments, record number of orders and deliveries and working within the guidelines for safety and health have been tremendous. Yet through it all, we have had not one case of anyone being sick and not only that, everyone has forged even greater relationships with each other to make the customer experience and 100% customer success the best ever.

I want to close this chapter by saying thank you to my team, to my loyal customers, my loyal factories throughout the world, my BUB and everyone else that helped me and TNG through this transition. I cannot wait for salons and spas to reopen and most important, we are ready for business in the post-pandemic economy because of you.

Larry

My Soaring Eagles, Warriors & Survivors

I still cannot believe that I produced three two-hour Webinars in a span of ten days. It is quite the mini-series, more than six hours covering my personal history, the history of the hair care business and my strategic vision for business in a new world order.

I sometimes ask myself why did I go through all the effort, time and expense (more than $75K) to do this? After all before the crisis I was working four days a week, taking Friday’s off, and going on vacation every three weeks. Life was good. Since the crisis I have been working 24/7 and never as much in my life. The reason why is simple: For my customers and salon professionals. That is still my passion.

My customers are at home earning no money, most with no savings, no unemployment benefits and no idea how their future is going to look once salons are allowed to reopen. They nneded some guidance and someone to give them advice and feedback. Since no one else stepped in, I took on the responsibility.

Since then, I have more loyal customers than ever (and for sure, some disgruntled customers who told me to take a hike). Here is the thing I know from being in the battlefield full time: Without PPE products, every business is vulnerable. And as the hoarding took place in toilet paper, paper towels, beans and now packaged hair color, the hoarding will be worse when salons and spas reopen. I know this.

TNG Worldwide is being transformed before my very eyes and there is no going back. My Soaring Eagles, Warriors & Survivors loyal to me is all I need. Together we are pivoting in the right way and will be more successful than ever.

Larry