How Cheryl McCants used supply-chain knowledge to turn strategic marketing company into PPE supplier

In this ongoing battle to beat COVID-19, flexibility can pay dividends for small businesses. East Orange’s Impact Consulting Enterprises is a perfect example.

The award-winning minority- and woman-owned strategic communications, marketing and public relations firm took a hands-on approach to helping others when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S.

When COVID-19 struck New Jersey in March, Impact diverted its focus from its core business and dedicated itself to helping others.

Impact CEO and President Cheryl McCants activated the supply-chain knowledge gained earlier in her career to temporarily join the personal protective equipment network.

McCants quickly began searching for reliable national and international suppliers. Impact did not waste a moment and soon acquired masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, wipes and other PPE for hospitals, schools, utility companies and other organizations in need.

“When I learned of the many challenges that procurement officers faced in identifying legitimate suppliers for masks, gloves and other types of PPE, we instinctively jumped in to help,” McCants said.

McCants had supply-chain experience from a previous job with Nike. And her contacts in the design world, including Christian Dior, enabled her to procure appropriate fabrics for FDA-approved masks.

McCants — who said helping others is one of Impact’s core values — said she quickly became disturbed at how much fraud, deceit and price-gouging had been occurring in the supply chain.

“While we are not doctors, grocery workers or first responders, Team Impact consists of great researchers and crises managers,” she said. “We put our skills to use and shored up a portion of the PPE supply chain for those in need. We deal with crisis communication for our clients. So, we looked at the PPE supply situation and treated it like a crisis.”

McCants estimates that one-third of the supplies she secured went to New Jersey, including 50,000 masks sent to Newark’s University Hospital; 12,000 masks to Princeton’s Eden School for Autistic Children; and hundreds of masks to various New Jersey-based cleaning companies.

Impact also provided 10,000 gloves to Massachusetts’ Veterans Affairs Hospital and nearly 300,000 sanitizing wipes to utility companies. She hopes to soon assist Texas.

The team worked diligently behind the scenes to source reliable PPE for those on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19. And Impact certainly did not make this pivot for profit, as its PPE engagement yielded significantly lower earnings than its standard communication work.

As the need for PPE sourcing settles down, McCants looks forward to resuming her team’s focus on marketing. Impact continues to leverage its multitude of connections to help those in need and speak out against injustice everywhere.

Reliability, efficiency and expediency reigned, McCants said.

Robert Sharbaugh, University Hospital’s acting director of supply chain management, said McCants’ efforts made a difference.

“We had an immediate need for additional PPE supplies,” he said. “Impact’s Newark office is located less than a mile away from University Hospital, so working with Cheryl and her team was an easy, trustworthy and close-to-home solution for the hospital.”

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