When this crazy pivot started just 15 days ago, I had 3 goals:
- Help get masks to those in need AND fast
- Find a way to continue to support my own family
- Save Oliberte or what was left of it at this point
While I cannot guarantee #2 or #3 will be achieved yet or ever, I’m am just as floored that in such a short time we have now received, placed or delivered orders for over 7 Million Masks!
We are now working with different levels of Governments in the US and within Canada. We are supporting Charities, Senior Care Support Providers, Health Care Units and Businesses that are providing essential services. We are bringing our masks to North America and Abroad.
Now let’s be clear. It’s one thing to take orders for 7 Million masks, it’s another thing to deliver them. Only then it matters and this will happen over the coming 2-3 weeks. These masks and hopefully the many million more we provide will help keep people safe and help us fight COVID-19.
Honestly, I’m scared as I appreciate the magnitude of the situation and the need to deliver on our promise. But, I’m confident in our ability, because we know that people’s lives are literally at stake and that’s motivation enough.
While we continue to push and have been able to make some big steps, 7 Million is really nothing. Oliberte has shown we can adapt, collaborate and provide quality masks at a reasonable price BUT more importantly do it quickly. Yet some bigger groups we talk to can’t see we are the real deal.
I am still VERY frustrated by my own provincial and federal Government continue to move with complacency and lack of action at a time we need neither of those, especially from any form of government. Especially since aren’t they supposed to be supporting small businesses, not just the big ones? Isn’t this the time they should act on their promise to help small business, not just with pretty speeches about how “we’re going to help get small businesses back running.”
I’m frustrated my own Ontario government can’t get their act together. I have been called or emailed maybe 20+ times in the last 10 days to “check-in.” by a variety of people within Ontario or who are Team Ontario. I got so far as finally receiving a Letter of Intent for masks, only to have the person who emailed me to disappear. It appeared as if it was a bit of a facade to show they are trying to work with small businesses when in fact they had no interest. In the end here is the response I finally got:
“Thank you for your interest in doing business with the Ontario Government. We were able to fulfil our orders with other suppliers. We appreciate the time you took to submit your proposal to help in the fight against COVID-19.”
So, let me get this right? The Government of Ontario has fulfilled all it’s orders. You’re telling me there are now enough masks in or on way for Ontario? And if Ontario needs close to 20 Million masks asap, did they really work with any small businesses or just give it to 2-3 of the more “reliable” partners. The real reason is that we didn’t get it is that I’m a small business that isn’t paying all the medical supply chain people along the way. If I can deliver to Ontario in a direct path without all the middle people, it devalues the reason to have all those steps in the process. It takes all those hands out of the team huddle. But I’m not saying those steps aren’t needed as they do provide valuable resources, but in a time when masks need to most fast, a model like Oliberte is one of the best options.
Then, yesterday I got a call from the Canadian Government and while I was unbelievably honoured to be called by one of our Ministers directly, I am jaded by the fact that I doubt anything will transpire. Oliberte’s offering has now been moved up the line, which is great, but now I’m told there is a process which has to be followed and it could days or weeks depending on the needs. BUT all we hear now is we need masks and Oliberte can deliver 10 Million+ masks in 2-3 weeks. Is that not something that should be acted on and even more so because we’re a small business who can support our country. Does that all just make sense? Yet the contracts keep going to the big businesses while brokers on top of brokers continue to get their 10% mark up fees. Yet here Oliberte is on the ground in the factories finding and working with real people – not worried about escrows or paper work – yet the higher ups play ping pong from one “potential supplier” only as the costs increase and the brokers continue to get paid AND most importantly in that process, masks get delayed to the people that need it NOW.
As you can see while I rant and rave, I think you know by now I am not deterred. It will not stop us from trying to help as many people as quickly as possible. If we can work with more governments, we will. If they don’t want to work with us, I will find another way to ensure that as many people that need masks will get masks.
At the end of this month we will be chartering a 747 Airplane to bring 5-6 Million masks to Canada. We will be doing something similar in early May to the US. It’s crazy to even say that we’re moving so fast we are chartering planes and I will do what I can to ensure there are more planes full of masks.
But I ask for your help again. While we’re not selling to the public, if you know of anyone of influence at any and all levels of Government, at a hospital, a healthcare establishment, a retirement home, an essential business or a charity, please forward my information to them if they are still struggling to get masks. They can also email me at email@example.com and I can provide them information on our masks, our factories, pricing and estimated delivery dates. I will make sure to get to them asap.
As always, Thank you.
Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Stay Strong.