As more states begin announcing their plans to lift shelter-in-place orders enacted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Nationwide Marketing Group and O’Rourke Sales Company (OSC) have joined together to ensure independent retailers have access to much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE).
Called the O’Rourke Retail PPE Program, the partnership gives Nationwide members the exclusive ability to purchase PPE products through a single, easy, not-for-profit program, helping to protect their customers, store associates, and delivery and install crews as stores begin to reopen.
“Independent retailers are critical to the success of the nation’s economy,” says Derek Mattila, Nationwide’s vice president of business development. “We’ve had a number of requests for PPE from our members, and securing PPE is very challenging right now. The O’Rourke Retail PPE Program allows us to tap into an established network of suppliers to provide our members with the masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and other supplies they need to ensure a safe in-store retail experience for customers and employees.”
One of the challenges in sourcing PPE right now, Mattila says, is the large minimum order quantities required for some products – sometimes upwards of 100,000 units per order. This, coupled with inconsistent supply and volatile pricing, is making it challenging to secure supplies.
As one of Nationwide’s longtime distribution partners, O’Rourke already had the processes in place to receive large-scale orders, break down and repackage them into more manageable quantities, and then distribute the products to locations across the United States. This made them an ideal partner for a PPE distribution program, Mattila explains.
For O’Rourke, Nationwide’s request to help arm its members with PPE was an easy one to fulfill. Not only was the company already sourcing equipment and hand sanitizer through its OSC Cares charitable arm to support small businesses, food banks, local hospitals and first responders, but owner and CEO Jeff O’Rourke’s daughter – a nurse – is currently working on a COVID-19 floor at a hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, making the issue extremely personal.
“When the pandemic started, we met as a team and set out some very simple principles to help guide OSC’s decision-making during this challenging time,” says Andrew Terry, president of O’Rourke. “Support our OSC family, help small businesses however possible, and give to local communities and front-line workers. This program accomplishes all three. We are proud to support the thousands of independent retailers who are members of Nationwide Marketing Group and are affected by this crisis as they work to get back to business – safely.”
Items available through the O’Rourke Retail PPE Program include:
- Reusable KN95 masks
- Disposable masks
- Disposable gloves
- Disposable gowns
- Disposable shoe covers
- Reusable face shields or protective goggles
- Hand sanitizer
- Cleaning solutions
- Social distancing POP materials
Mattila says that none of the items are hospital- or surgical-grade, such as N95 respirators or surgical masks, and this program should not affect healthcare supply chain efforts.
All items will be available for order through Nationwide’s proprietary eXchange platform and through the O’Rourke sales team.
“We know that everyone is eager to safeguard their customers and employees, so we have hired several additional employees to help support this program and process orders as quickly as possible,” says Jake O’Rourke, vice president of O’Rourke, who is spearheading the project from the company’s corporate headquarters in Davenport, Iowa.
Terry adds, “Initial orders are being placed this week with multiple supply sources, and we look forward to putting equipment in Nationwide members’ hands in early May.”
Amy Croom is the director of public relations and communications for Nationwide Marketing Group.