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.
Here we are, in the last hurrah of the 2010 decade, wondering where the last ten years went. Hey, I still think about Y2K and 12/31/1999. That seems like forever ago and it seems like yesterday at the same time.
The next two weeks are slow and easy with most of us taking holiday time off, shopping, getting ready for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, college football bowl games and our favorite activity of all: Eating and drinking. No school busses, traffic is light and hey, next weeks temps are in the 40’s and sunshine. It won’t be a White Christmas, but it surely will be enjoyable.
With New Year’s Day falling on Wednesday, even the 2nd and 3rd will be slow with schools still closed and people extending their vacation time. The real action starts Monday, January 6. So what is the action going to look like?
That depends whom you are talking too. Look, it’s a new year and the start of a new decade. The optimist in me looks at this being one of the best times to move forward, embrace change and start off fast. And that is exactly what TNG is going to do. The pessimist in others might look at this time period as just another week, another month, another year that is going to be no different than last year or any other year. Those individuals will fall further behind.
We are going to see a new era of change unlike any other era. The likes of Tesla, Amazon, 5G, AI, biotechnology are just in the early adopter phases of product and technology roll-outs. By the end of this decade, everything we own today in technology will be obsolete and most likely, so will our SUV’s and pickup trucks. Biotech drugs will be introduced at a much faster pace and many cancers will become curable or at least manageable. The average life expectancy in 2100 will be 115 due to all the changes that will take place.
But for now, none of the excitement that will change our world will happen in the beauty business. It will continue to be product driven by celebrities and influencers. Surely this too will change but what new medium will appear to make that change happen? When Coty buys a 51% interest in Kylie’s company for $600 million, you know we are near a tipping point. And speaking of Coty, they are still trying to unload the P&G brands they bought just a few years ago along with OPI, GhD and a few others. It looks they will have to wait until 2020 just like Revlon who has yet to find a buyer. One thing is for certain, the beauty business will not get easier in the new decade.
For TNG, I am staking the company on product innovation, best-in-class customer service (we are like Delta, best service year after year), and best value proposition. If you look at most successful brands moving into 2020, they are all brands that sell their products at list price (no discounts), offer the highest quality and are in stock. These brands include Costco, Trader Joe’s, Lululemon, Apple, and ALDI. And for a peak at the master of branding building, look no further than LVMH who just bought Tiffany for a cool $16B. In fact, Bernard Arnault is the richest man on earth amassing a fortune over $100B and growing faster than Jeff Bezo’s or Bill Gate’s.
I’m super excited about 2020 and at my age, there are not many decades left to get excited about so this is perfect timing! Regardless of what the new era of change takes place, one thing is for certain: Girls from the ages of 6 to 96 will continue to get their mani’s, pedi’s, hair cut-colored-highlighted, and take in the occasional massage and facial. That is the sweet spot, beauty services, and we will continue to lead the way in nurturing this niche segment.
Safe travels whether you are staying home or on the road, safe and healthy new year and look forward to connecting in 2020.
Saturday October 11, 2014 was another magical day in downtown Detroit. More than 15,000 individuals gathered around Ford Field and partook in the annual ACS STRIDES walk. More than $1 million was raised.
TNG was once again a proud sponsor and this marked the 10th consecutive year doing the event. We have raised more than $2 million for ACS.
This year more than 150 walkers came out to support our cause and together we have raised more than $70,000 to date. The stories being told, the inspiration being shared and the hope generated all makes this an amazing event. The 3-mile walk started late but the sun was shining and smiles were seen all over downtown Detroit. Below are a few pictures taken by our infamous photographer, H. Lots of fun by all.
Saturday was a glorious day on Belle Isle. No rain. No snow. No bitter cold. No howling winds. No gloom and doom. The sun was out, the temperatures were moderate and people came from all over.
In all, over 14,000 walkers enjoyed the 5-mile walk around the island. The trees were showing off red, yellow and other fall colors while the Detroit River sparkled (if you can imagine that).
Jay Towers from FOX2 was live with microphone in hand and doing another splendid job covering the event. The American Cancer Society (ACS) had a multitude of staff and volunteers on hand to keep the event well organized. Survivors were on hand and well recognized. Families, guys, kids and strollers showed up in mass. Sorry, no pets.
Nearly $800,00 was raised for cancer research, an all-time record. It appears no matter how bad the economy is, people always find ways to reach out and give to charities they deem relevant. That’s one thing that makes living in the USA so great.
TNG was the presenting sponsor once again and had more than 250 walkers donning TNG shirts. Many were newcomers to the event and they had a great time. Lucky them, they didn’t have to deal with the bitter cold like years past.
We are still processing money from the Tiffany event last week plus the money raised for STRIDES. Once again, TNG will be over the $100,000 mark, something all its talent, customers and suppliers can be proud of.
For photos and more info about STRIDES, click here
After signing the deal with J.D. Wright, owner of Salon Source, it was a whirlwind tour of Houston, Ft. Worth and Dallas.
Houston is home to Salon Source (SS) where I got to meet most of the SS employees at our inaugural announcement meeting. Cleverly, J.D. had everyone, including himself, don MSU shirts with “Rebels 2010” on the back. In the background Jimmy Buffett was playing “Margaretville.” It was a class act all the way and luckily MSU beat Notre Dame.
[Good thing JD went into beauty supplies instead of modeling!]
Afterwards, I took everyone to a celebration dinner at Pappadeux which seems to own the Houston restaurant scene. J.D. even bought a bottle of Dom for the occasion.
[J.D. was still upset over the $20 corkage fee]
The next day I visited the Houston store and met up with Richard, the store manager. Rich is quite the hoot and knew his stuff. It was then off to Dallas and Ft. Worth (about 5 hours away from Houston, 40 minutes via Southwest).
Ft. Worth is about an hour from Dallas and is quite the impressive city. I met up with Tonya, the Ft. Worth store manager and she shared her insight. Like all of Texas, people are starving for personalized service and she was so happy to be part of TNG.
Dallas is a sprawling city (third largest in Texas) and I visited the one store on the outer edge. The store manager, Will, was on top of his game with over 30 years experience. This location will serve as our Dallas Academy.
I met up with a few salon owners in the stores and they too were geeked about what was coming their way. Texas is the land of opportunity and it was quite evident during my short visit.
J.D. and I are both very excited and look forward to bringing the TNG world to Texas. I may even have to buy me a pickup truck and start eating donuts and barbeque! Or better yet, bring a little Michigan down to Texas.