Last week I emailed you with what I and my Company, Oliberté, is going through. Today, I want to give you the first update since that pivot. We have really moved into the eye of the storm, in terms of getting much needed masks to people on the ground asap and uncovered a dark world in the process.
Between last week’s email and this email my world has turned. I have rarely slept in the last 10 days and I have essentially been a non-existent husband, father, brother or son.
In a few days Oliberte has essentially started sourcing and importing medical and non-medical masks in China via one of our partners and bringing them to those that need them asap. In this short time administratively, we have done the following:
- Received our Health Canada Medical License (#11767)
- Have secured 5+ FDA and/or CE Compliant Factories that are authorized to manufacture and export medical devices and have the ability to produdce 2.5 million masks per day combined. We are evaluating and on boarding more suppliers every day through our team on the ground and validations we’re conducting from this side
- Received permission from the FDA to import our masks which are considered a suitable N95 equivalent by the CDC. It’s called the KN95, which is the Chinese N95 standard.
In the last week, we have received, placed or began shipping orders of close to 1 Million masks to Healthcare Facilities, Local Governments, Charities, Large and Small Businesses in Canada and the USA. We have pending orders for groups in Italy, Australia, Kenya and Mexico. We have done this in large part because of the you. Many of you have opened my emails and have either acted by ordering masks on behalf of a group, or contacted establishments in your local communities, and some have even helped translate documents from our factories so we can validate and mobilize quickly. I am forever grateful.
While we could pat ourselves on the back, 1 million masks are a pin drop compared to what is needed right now. The delay in getting more masks asap is what pisses me off. I’m frustrated quite honestly by things either out of my control or happening in the marketplace that prevent either Oliberte delivering more masks or quite simply anyone selling or trying to bring approved masks to the market. Why? Because of greed or complacency.
I have heard a rumour (and I deeply hope it’s not true) there is a consortium of distributors in Europe holding hostage the “gold-standard N95” mask, with over 100 Million of these “new gold mineral” masks sitting in a warehouse and strategically being distributed ever so slowly in order to jack up the price to whichever Government around the world or ‘mask-bounty’ hunter pays the highest price. This story is not confirmed, but the concept of it may be part of the reason I’ve heard that the State of New York just paid $8USD per mask, when my masks are 1/3rd of that price, barely covering my cost. In fact, our first 5 orders we lost money on every order. Lesson learned and I can’t do that again, but at the speed we’re moving I and my team are going to stumble at times but move quickly to recover and adjust. As such we have had to increase our prices regularly to ensure this pivot helps many, but also selfishly doesn’t put me and my Company under water.
But I’m not asking others to just lose money, just cover their costs or follow my lead. What I want, like most of us, is for masks and needed equipment to move as fast as possible. It really is the wild west out there right now in terms of demand and supply with all the background going on. All this while the real solders fighting the real battle (i.e. the healthcare workers) are on the battle lines. I guess that this sort of behaviour is not new during a time of crises and I’m not completely innocent myself making pennies per mask along the way to save my company. While there are those that really need masks and can’t get them, there are others using those same masks to cover what’s really going on. I am trying to be as transparent as we can given the information at hand. I will not be perfect throughout this journey, but the goal is the goal – get masks to people who need it the most and now. Be honest along the way and push others to act fast.
Along those lines, then what’s more frustrating is frankly my own government in Ontario and Canada. While I’m extremely thankful that our Medical License was approved so quickly, we have had the ability to deliver compliant masks at affordable prices to the government for over a week. I could have had up to 2,000,000 masks arriving next week, but the time it takes for them to go through their process, their task force, this procurement website, that procurement website, their buy and sell website, is beyond frustrating. It’s government and I get that it needs to have protocols and processes in place since each level is accountable to its people. It’s just frustrating is all.
We hear it in the news that masks are needed now. Millions of masks. Not kind of like now. NOW. I get that everyone is understaffed within the different levels working on COVID-19 responses on multiple fronts, but what else can I do at this time to show we’re ready and able to help now and deliver millions of masks fast. I am already at the point where we’re talking to airlines to use their pilots and charter planes so we can move as many millions of masks as possible to truly help those that need the support now.
I know this email sounds like I’m frustrated; and I am, but it does not mean that there aren’t amazing people out there making things happen and making real progress, including within our Governments. Government is there to protect us in times like the present when only Government can enforce rules and laws for our betterment. Today’s normal is an inconvenience, it sucks, it’s not fun, it’s boring. But most of us would take this new normal than a chance of death. Or worst yet, at the the chance we spread this virus ourselves and someone we know and love dies because they got the virus from us.
The rant is over and that’s the update. I hope next week I have more news for you and even more progress to report. What started last week with me trying to keep the lights on is now a plea, passion and purpose to bring millions and millions of masks asap to those that need it.
And, I thank you for your continued support. 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, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure to get to them asap.
Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Stay Strong.