Two Capital Region companies, RAD Soap and Pine Ridge Industries, that met at a FuzeHub virtual event are crediting this supply chain connection for strengthening their businesses. Although their facilities are just a short drive apart, RAD and Pine Ridge needed some time on-line in order to meet. That’s because leaders from both organizations are incredibly busy, and virtual events like the ones FuzeHub organizes are super-convenient.
In a recent article in the Albany Business Journal (subscription required), Sue Kerber of RAD Soap and Nathan Mandsager of Pine Ridge each described their FuzeHub connection in a similar way. Prior to the pandemic, neither would have had time to attend a networking event in-person. Then they attended a virtual venue that doesn’t require busy businesspeople to invest travel time or even leave their offices. What began as a COVID-19 way to connect provides powerful networking opportunities.
Remo, the on-line platform that FuzeHub uses, enabled Kerber and Mandsager to sit together at a virtual table, where they were introduced by Louise Aitcheson, Vice President of Business Development, Business Growth Solutions at the Center for Economic Growth (CEG). Like FuzeHub, CEG is part of the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NYMEP). FuzeHub is the statewide NY MEP center and CEG is the center for the Capital Region.
Kerber explained that the Menands, NY company she founded makes a line of soaps, lotions, and other skin care products. RAD sells its products on-line, through retailers such as Whole Foods, and at an Albany storefront. Mandsager, Chief Operating Officer at Pine Ridge Industries, explained how his organization in nearby Scotia, NY provides order fulfillment services and is a division of the ARC of Schenectady, which serves individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
As a result of their summertime connection, RAD Soap engaged Pine Ridge for an initial bulk wholesale project in October. Then in November, at the start of the busy holiday shopping season, RAD began using Pine Ridge for additional packaging and fulfillment. Today, Pine Ridge does all of the fulfillment for RAD Soap’s wholesale partners, Internet customers, and stores. Pine Ridge also performs product labeling for RAD at its facility.
RAD Soap, which began selling its popular hand sanitizer even before COVID-19 hit, has high standards not just for its products, but also for its shipping and service. Both Sue Kerber and her son, Zak, praise Pine Ridge for its performance. “It’s easy to work with them,” Zak Kerber says of Pine Ridge. The transition from in-house to outsourced fulfillment was “smooth”, Zak Kerber adds, and has enabled RAD Soap to “gain back time” and use it for marketing, sales, and business development.
Nathan Mandsager of Pine Ridge Industries is also pleased with the relationship. “It’s a value-add for RAD,” he adds. “They don’t have to manage staff and fulfilment is done at our location, which has strong protocols for COVID in place.” Mandsager also cites benefits that aren’t just about the bottom line. Pine Ridge personnel like working with a consumer product that they see in stores, and the order fulfillment project is “a good new challenge from a skills perspective.”
The Remo event that RAD Soap and Pine Ridge Industries attended was one of many FuzeHub virtual events in 2020 – and the most recent chapter in how FuzeHub has assisted both organizations. For RAD Soap, FuzeHub connections have led to equipment grants from the Workforce Development Institute (WDI). For Pine Ridge, an April 2020 FuzeHub grant supported a production scale-up of laboratory supplies for COVID-19 testing.
FuzeHub is planning plenty more virtual events for 2021, many of which will provide New York State manufacturers with opportunities to make supply chain connections. Join our mailing list to receive regular updates or, if you require an immediate supply chain connection, talk to our Manufacturer Solutions Program. FuzeHub can also connect you to NYS-funded resources that solve business and technical challenges.