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Axios' Felix Salmon (L) and Edgewell's Rod Little (R). Photo courtesy of Axios Events

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the way supply chains operate, but some CEOs are finding success in creative solutions to combat material shortages and staff outbreaks.

The big picture: Stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 made operations for many manufacturing companies difficult to maneuver. Close-quarters provided ample space for outbreaks and shipping overloads bottlenecked some products and deliveries.

On production, Cuyana CEO Karla Gallardo said at an Axios Event on Wednesday that her fashion brand was deliberate in how it allocated its materials.

  • "[W]e became creative. We repurposed materials towards products that we knew were going to be more demanded. We moved some new styles to the later parts of the year or 2021. And so each [product offering] we treated as a unique case."

Edgewell Personal Care CEO Rod Little said giving people the ability to stay home when they're sick without docking their pay helped prevent COVID-19's spread, while also allowing them to keep up with supply demand.

  • "[P]re COVID-19, if our hourly people were sick or needed to miss work because they were feeling unwell... they would lose pay... We changed that from the very beginning. And we said, hold on a second. If you're sick and feeling unwell, do not come in ... Go sort that out."
  • "And what we did is we gave everybody the right and option to have two weeks fully paid leave to go sort all those things out, effective an incentive not to come in to get paid. We still paid you if you if you stayed home."

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 16, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: Supply chain of social good

On Wednesday, December 17 Axios' Felix Salmon hosted a conversation on how businesses are making a difference during the pandemic, featuring Cuyana CEO Karla Gallardo, Edgewell Personal Care CEO Rod Little and Fanatics founder Michael Rubin.

Michael Rubin unpacked how Fanatics pivoted from manufacturing sports apparel to face masks and the social responsibility of the private sector during the pandemic.

  • On the decision to produce masks: "I called the Commissioner of [the Major Baseball League] Rob Manfred and said we should shut down the production of Major League Baseball jerseys and instead make masks...From the second I had the idea to when we were making masks was six days."
  • How the private sector can support the public sector's efforts in the pandemic: "I have a strong belief that as a successful business leader in the private sector, you have a responsibility to make a difference...government alone cannot do what needs to be done."

Karla Gallardo discussed Cuyana's work with their supply chain partners to repurpose materials and to strategically stagger production to keep everyone in business.

  • On their pivoting strategy: "We repurposed materials towards products that we knew would be more in demand. We moved new styles to the later parts of the year or to 2021...We worked with our suppliers together to figure out situations in which both of us could make it through [the pandemic]."

Rod Little unpacked Edgewell Personal Care's focus on employees and highlighted the critical nature of their pandemic leave program, which guaranteed two weeks of paid leave and twelve weeks of 70% paid leave.

  • On the implementation of the paid leave policy: "The most important decision we made early was to institute a new pandemic leave policy...We ended up having 40% of our population in the early days of [the pandemic] either feeling unwell or needing a quarantine because they thought they'd been exposed or needed to sort out childcare. And we paid them for two weeks to go do that."

Axios VP of Client Partnerships Jon Otto hosted a View from the Top segment with General Motors' Global Manufacturing EVP Gerald Johnson who discussed how General Motors began producing ventilators at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • On acting swiftly at the beginning of the pandemic: "It led us to be able to produce our first ventilator 30 days after [deciding to manufacture them]...Ultimately, the majority of our production ended up filling the country's bank of ventilators to support the effort of the pandemic. "

Thank you General Motors for sponsoring this event.

Ina Fried, author of Login
38 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

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