I have blocked the following words from my online experience: COVID-19, protests, racism, NFL, Donald T. Trump, and Joe Biden. Now the only thing on my news feed are recipes and travel destinations that I cannot get to. I love it.
I don’t know about you but I love sushi, or should I say, I used to love it. Sushi used to be authentic: Nice fresh tuna rolls, fresh wasabi and pickled ginger, ginger salad and miso soup. Over the past few years, sushi has become overstuffed rice rolls filled with fried shrimp tempura, cream cheese and other high fat pollutants. So I decided to Sushi Wushi. That’s right my friends, make my own. With a little online research, I learned I needed a decent rice maker, couple rolling mats, seaweed paper, and fresh ingredients. I went to the only Japanese supermarket in town figuring they would have it all. No rice cooker, barely any utensils but they did have fresh ingredients, wasabi powder (that is the secret to the best wasabi), and Japanese rice (has to be authentic). I learned that sticky rice Is not just steamed rice, but steam rice blended with rice vinegar, a lot of sugar and a lot of salt. No wonder it tastes so good! I ended up making the rice in a saucepan and it turned out fine. I got to add as little rice as possible to the seaweed wrapper and add my fresh ingredients. I made homemade spicy sauce for the tuna (Japanese mayo, Sriracha, lemon juice and a touch of sesame oil), and I made the spicy tuna two ways: One very small diced cubes plus the spicy sauce and second, blended in a food processor for a few seconds plus the spicy sauce. Both versions were excellent. I ordered the rice cooker from Amazon for next time and highly recommend you try your own Sushi Wushi experience.
Our premier issue of the TNG Catalog is out and I have to say it is quite impressive. It is truly amazing with everything digital how people still love their catalogs. RH stock is at an all-time high and they are the king of catalogs. There is something special about catalogs that will keep them around for years to come.
Remember your first Cinnabon? OMG! That was when they made them fresh in the airport and you could smell them as you checked in. Ooeey, gooey and so tasty. They just introduced their first frozen line of breakfast foods with their cinnamon specialties taking center stage. YUM!
Equinox is open as are all gyms in MI. I have yet to go and doubt I will be going anytime soon. The club now opens at 6AM instead of 5AM and the classes are later too. I cannot imagine doing yoga or spinning with a mask on. Steam room, spa and cold plunge pools closed and zero amenities in the locker room too. And for all this, you get to pay the same $150 monthly fee. With Peloton announcing triple sales last quarter, how many people are ready to go back to the gym? Are you?
Is it time to blame CA for the downturn in the beauty business? After all, CA is the only state to close down salons and spas unless they perform the services outdoors. Remember CA accounts for 1/7 of the USA economy. Or should we blame face masks as women no longer need as much lipstick? Or should we blame COVID-19 as millions of workers no longer need to go to the office? Coty, Revlon and Sally Beauty keep trending down. I wonder how much longer Coty will stay solvent; if and when Revlon will finally sell; and the future of Sally (most likely private equity will take them out and/or they will spin off BSG). With airports still mostly deserted, cruise ships not sailing until 2021 and spas open with limited access and capacity, we have a long ways to go before we see normalcy again.
Speaking of normalcy, I love a good steak like the rest of us (unless you a vegan like Ben). I also like a good pizza, nacho and grilled wild salmon. But there is still nothing like fresh burgers and fries. I make my burger with Piedmontese beef (all the flavor of chuck but only 4% fat) and truffle fries using fresh cut potatoes and truffle oil. The secret to making the best fries? Soak in ice cold water for 2-3 hours, then dry with paper towel. Fry for a few minutes in 300F oil (do not brown) and take out and drain on clean paper towel. When ready to serve, fry for a couple minutes at 375F until golden brown, season and serve. So good!
I was shopping at Meijer for dish soap wands made by 3M, you know, the ones you fill with dish soap and scrub your pots and pans. Meijer’s website said they were in stock at the store (they don’t ship). I went to buy them all excited and found not only were they out of stock, the entire section was out of stock. In fact, about 40% of the shelves in the grocery section were empty.
I decided to go to Walmart to pick up some essentials thinking they are the largest retailer, their sales are up and they should be in stock. I was shocked to find their shelves more than 50% empty. Like Meijer, not even a single bottle of red wine vinegar.
Yesterday I made my monthly trip to Costco which I am despising more and more. In fact, I have moved all my heavy items like Perrier and Propel to Amazon since Amazon is the same price and they deliver right to the door. But for certain items, Costco is still best. Then again, they were 100% out of paper towels, they only had their brand toilet paper and forget about essentials like gloves and wipes. At least their warehouse was stocked with items so it didn’t look barren like both Meijer and Walmart.
I just reviewed the saloncentric.com site to check out their inventory levels. Their private label brand is Prolific and they were out of stock on nearly half their items. It also looks they dropped both CND and OPI.
Cosmoprof.com was better since they don’t do private label. But still, their essential pricing is more than double ours and they still have limits in place. Oh, and forget buying gloves, wipes and other key items. They too look like they dropped both CND and OPI.
Now go to tngworldwide.com and check out our out of stocks. Every essential item we make is in stock including a full range of gloves, disinfectants, wipes and hand soap. We are in stock on everything our customers need to be in business.
What makes us different than the others? We actually manufacture all our products and have control of our supply chain. That is why we continue to ship our orders more than 99% complete. And who needs CND and OPI when you can buy EMMA Beauty at distributor prices and get the most innovative products? Oh, all EMMA Beauty products are in stock!
Shopping for goods has become a nasty chore. In most instances, consumers are tired and fed up with accepting second and third choices. No doubt mass retailers are benefiting from this trend as their customers buy brand B, brand C and sometimes even brand D when brand A is out of stock.
This is why I favor the Trader Joe’s approach. They are still one of the best shopping experience stores to shop mostly because more than 85% of the goods are their own brand. They too are in control of their supply chain.
Amazon loves all the supply chain issues mass retailers have. That is one reason why their sales are up more than 40%. Even though Amazon isn’t in stock all the time, you can still place a backorder and wait. Our customers love shopping with us through tngworldwide.com and Amazon.com. Our customers have the best of both worlds. Remember when no one thought Amazon.com was going to make it after the dot.com crash? In the end supply chain management always wins.
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.