We Are a Jan/San Distributor At The Epicenter Of This Pandemic: Here Is How I Am Leading

BY Nick Benton
3/30/2020 - COVID-19

In an effort to continue to try and provide our members with resources that are easy to consume, and relevant to their own businesses, we are taking some information that has been developed and trying to “pare it down” as much as possible so you can easily find the identified portions that are most beneficial.

One resource that has been created in the wake of the COVID-19 virus is a video series developed by Dirk Beveridge from UnleashWD. In this particular video, “We Are a Jan/San Distributor At The Epicenter Of This Pandemic: Here Is How I Am Leading”, Dirk interviews Brian Peters of Peters Supply.

We have taken some time to pull some of the highlights and identify some important items that were covered, and then time stamp the video for easy access to everything that was covered in the video.


As much as you need your employees, what do you do if an employee is sick? What if it’s COVID-19? Peters Supply is a clear example of a distribution company who demonstrated how small businesses can make swift and informed decisions to help their employees through an unprecedented situation. Here are some of steps their team took, and are continuing to take, through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their leadership decided early on that if any employee shows symptoms consistent with COVID-19, that employee will be given two weeks of paid time off immediately. Any employee that does not touch inventory was directed to work from home immediately. Employees that do handle product were going to learn to work in a quickly evolving situation. The focus for Peters Supply was clear: educate and protect employees at all costs.

Here are some highlights:

  • Employees received training on how to properly clean and disinfect
  • Leadership prepared signage to display outside to communicate guidelines during the pandemic
  • They identified which roles could be backfilled by cross-trained employees, in the event of a sick employee

Every decision they made was focused on one of 3 things: the customer, the supply chain and the team. It became critical that they made changes in their communications, so customers could get to their subject matter experts. For the supply chain, they needed to know which products could really solve problems and achieve good service levels. As an example, Peters states that it’s important to communicate that today, in this world, this product is what’s available and can be ready today. In terms of the team, Peters Supply had their “State of the Company” meeting remotely and let employees know simply: “The future is now, and every action that we make is going to affect the well-bring of themselves, their families and customers.”

They addressed: “what if we do nothing?” What if the community can’t wash their hands and disinfect? What if they no longer have the systems to package their goods? It was about problem solving and risk planning. It’s all about treating the customers’ pain.

Peters closed the webinar by framing the evolution of their customer interactions during the pandemic. Customers that were calling in were more than just people in their typical trading area. Calls were coming in from all over the country. Their employees had to take the time to help people, no matter how they found Peters Supply. Their job became education and how to help people solve problems. In one example, Peters described needing to educate someone who wanted to buy out their entire warehouse of hand soap – enough for 3 years, and much more than the company needed at the time. If Peters Supply educates people, more people across the country will have access to what they need, and they can better help “flatten the curve.”

Video Timestamps:

6:30 – Doing what small businesses do: quick action and quick change.

10:00 – Making changes to office access by minimizing risk.

12:10 – What happens if people in the building start showing symptoms?

15:40 – 3 Key Areas of Focus: Customers, Supply Chain, and Team

22:55 – Fielding calls, emails and messages from across the country to provide education and guidance to those who need help.

About UnleasedWD's video series

At UnleashWD our purpose is to unleash the human spirit.  And during this unprecedented time we felt compelled to support the UnleashWD tribe and our association partners with the right mix of inspiration and timely, relevant information.  We reached out to our network of wickedly smart subject matter experts to provide the sessions below.  In the words of one attendee - “This was amazing.  You’ve changed our day tomorrow.  We’ll be on the attack!”

We are a design, innovation, and strategy firm who transforms legacy distributors into nimble and innovative market leaders.  What you are about to experience is designed to unleash your spirit so like the individual above decided, you too will be on the attack!

We are here to support you through these next few months and beyond.  If we can do anything for you please reach out directly to either of us.

Dirk Beveridge                      Bethany Hepler
Founder                                VP of Design
dirk@unleashwd.com           bethany@unleashwd.com