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Member Businesses Find Ways to Thrive Despite Pandemic

Posted by: Justin Freeman on Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a culture of hyper awareness when it comes to health and wellness. It has also made our community acutely aware of the challenges that come with the supply chain in a global marketplace. These member businesses share their stories below.

Fresh Harvest Tasting Room Discovers New Opportunities
Fresh Harvest Tasting Room is a local company with tap rooms in downtown Rogers and Eureka Springs. Co-owners Troy Johnson and Steven Ketchersid offer more than 85 different olive oils and vinegars to taste and explore. Their longstanding relationship with their primary supplier of ultra-premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil allows them to work with highly respected family farms all over the world. These suppliers are recognized for having among the highest standards in the world and crush the olives within hours of being harvested. Their balsamic vinegar is also of the highest quality. The barrel aged Italian balsamic comes from the oldest and most respected consortium in Modena, Italy.

The ultra-premium olive oil available at Fresh Harvest is fresh because they work with both hemispheres for a ‘fresh harvest’. These extra virgin olive oils contain massive amounts of biophenols and oleic acids. Scientific studies show a correlation between the antioxidants in olive oil and health benefits related to these products that offer anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties.

“Our olive oils kick your immune system into high gear,” commented Johnson. “Using our olive oils will also help you reduce high cholesterol and contribute to healthy skin and hair. We have the strictest testing in the industry and are happy to explain this to our customers in-store, or they can also see our 'resources' section at our website.”

When asked whether the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their business, co-owner Troy Johnson explained retail traffic slowed significantly but online sales have increased.

“We are fortunate olive oil is designated as an essential food product,” explained Johnson. “Sales are good and only few products are in low supply. For the most part our inventory from our suppliers is available with only a few delays in shipping.”

Fresh Harvest has remained open throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but out of an abundance of caution, they have suspended tasting tours, limited the number of people in the stores and require everyone to wear masks. They have brought back their furloughed employees and have a lot of new PPE in the store, including plexiglass at the checkout counter and touchless payments.

For this locally owned business, the current pandemic situation has attracted new customers and new stories to share. They are learning their new clients are spending more time cooking at home with family around the dinner table. They are also making choices using high quality ingredients that are healthier than traditional convenience food. These adjustments are elevating immunity for overall good health while strengthening relationships with family.

Fresh Harvest opened their Eureka Springs store in 2012 and their downtown Rogers location in 2018. They also rely on their e-commerce website to facilitate purchases from clients from throughout the U.S. Customers may opt for direct shipments as well as curbside pickup. The website also offers health and nutritional articles and a Recipe Blog with more than 250 recipes. Fresh Harvest is located at 211 W Walnut in Rogers, and 121 E Van Buren in Eureka Springs. Visit them at www.FreshHarvest.co for more information.

Massco Dental Builds Relationships with Supply Chain
Sean Dunagin, founder of Massco Dental, grew up in Northwest Arkansas and is a former University of Arkansas football player. His work ethic and love for the state encouraged him to start his own business here in August of 1989. He began his trek as a small dental disposable goods provider. Sean went door-to-door to dental offices in multiple states selling gloves, sterilizing solutions, disinfectant sprays and more out of the back of his truck with his ultimate goal being to manufacture his own line of dental preventative care products in-house. As business and Massco’s team grew, he achieved his goals day by day. A small sales force was established across the country to further grow the company. Massco Dental continued to evolve and change with the times, which led to bottling and tubing for other companies.

Massco Dental puts their money where your mouth is. For more than 30 years they have served as a manufacturer of oral care products that their clients may use between dental visits. For many, their products have been particularly valuable during a time when routine dental appointments were unavailable during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Located in downtown Rogers, Massco Dental manufactures, packages and distributes dental care products sold to and distributed by dental professionals. They have clients located across North America as well as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

Several months ago, they made the decision to be 100% USA-made. They began sourcing U.S. suppliers that could provide them with the packaging materials they needed. The change in suppliers proved beneficial once the COVID-19 pandemic ensued.

“Having a 100% U.S. supply chain facilitated the continuation of our production operation,” reflected Blakelee Dunagin, Executive Director of Operations. “We are proud Americans and love helping out other U.S. companies in as many ways as possible by sourcing ingredients, packaging components, raw materials, warehouse equipment and supplies here in our country.”

Dunagin said utilizing all U.S. suppliers is sometimes more costly, however, lead times can be cut down immensely. This has never been more apparent, as shipping regulations related to the coronavirus have curtailed imports of product from other countries.

When asked how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their business, Dunagin shared the greatest impairment was the temporary closure of dental offices. The lockdown--which lasted several weeks--meant they were no longer selling bulk quantities of their products to dental care providers. To adapt to the reduction in demand, they shifted their focus from distribution to production to be ready for the time when business would again open. However, ramping up production was thwarted when packaging materials became unavailable as manufacturers of hand sanitizers scooped up everything available in the marketplace. The Massco team faced extended lead times and shortages in packaging components. However, as dental offices are gradually opening up, their production and distribution processes are returning to a normal pace.

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided some positive opportunities. “We have tried to make the most out of the challenges faced during this pandemic,” said Dunagin. “We are a family-run business, so we have enjoyed on-the-job ‘family time’ during slower days.”

They also put more thought into serving as a resource for other companies that might be developing products that need their packaging technology. Massco has a production facility that includes large tanks and production lines to fill both tubes and bottles. Their customizable services allow them to produce smaller quantities that can benefit start-ups and companies that are offering custom products on a smaller scale. Massco would love the opportunity to build a relationship with you and help to understand your vision so that they can fulfill your product goals.

The COVID-19 situation also strengthened their ties to the many supplier partners needed for their operation. Everyone in their supply chain was in the same situation and this generated a strong sense of community. Business conversations invariably touched on a more personal level, often asking how things were going on the other end as they pursued sources for packaging components, raw materials, and PPE products.

“The network of companies and people who work behind the scenes is really impressive,” Dunagin continued. “There are so many moving parts as they focus on getting the right components into the hands of the right people. Everyone out there is trying to reach out to see how they can help us in any way and vice versa.”

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