Pivoting to PPE: “I Used the Resources That We Had To Make a Difference”

ppe products January 12, 2022
Carey Smolensky

Vice President – Custom Specialty Promotions

Before 2020, if the general public considered using personal protective equipment (PPE), it was typically for home projects or hobbies. Doctors and construction workers usually used masks, and nitrile gloves were typically used by surgeons.

Then March 2020 arrived. Everything came to a standstill, live events shut down, and suddenly, PPE was essential for daily life around the globe. At that time, Custom Specialty Promotions (part of the CSP Worldwide family of companies) was in the business of providing branded merchandise such as drinkware, apparel, writing instruments, etc. 

We’re still in the branded merchandise business, but once the pandemic arrived in 2020, we pivoted to add PPE to our product line to meet the unprecedented challenges the world was facing.

We created a new division to help make a difference in the COVID-19 battle. Like breweries and distilleries that began making hand sanitizer to shore up supply, we realized we could tap existing manufacturing capacity to create gowns, masks, and other items necessary to protect the world from this new health threat.

How It All Began

In early March 2020, Carey Smolensky (President/CEO of CSP Worldwide and Vice President of Custom Specialty Promotions) and his team were in the midst of completing a week of event production in Los Angeles. The team was then scheduled to fly to Baltimore, Maryland, and then Austin, Texas, to produce other events. 

By mid-March, COVID-19 was spreading quickly, and it wasn’t long before all of CSP Worldwide’s events had to be canceled. Live events were postponed for the next 14 months.

Carey, though, has been a business owner and entrepreneur for over four decades, and navigating ups and downs has always been a part of his nature. So he acted fast, immediately pivoting to create a new PPE division within Custom Specialty Promotions.

He quickly learned that his existing vendors wouldn’t be able to support the medical specifications required, so he tapped into other resources and developed a new team to fight the pandemic. That’s when Carey certified Custom Speciality Promotions as a government supplier for PPE, as well as other procurement items as needed.

Carey’s first order was for 1 million isolation gowns, which were manufactured at CDC-approved factories in China. Carey had a “boots on the ground” team in China to oversee the transfer of funds, manufacturing, and shipping process to ensure there would be no holdups. 

A portion of the first order was delivered by air freight to Chicago, and the remaining was sent via fast vessel to a West Coast port and then by rail to Chicago for palletization and delivery.

Custom Specialty Promotions not only delivered the product ahead of schedule, but the state of Illinois commended Carey and his team for the product’s quality, palletization, and safe and expedited delivery. 

Today, We Continue The Cause

Today, Custom Specialty Promotions continues to provide PPE to the government, corporations, and social clients.

“When the pandemic hit in 2020, businesses shut down and life as we knew it ceased to exist, at least for the time being, I pivoted,” said Carey. “I used the resources that we had to make a difference. I’m very honored to be able to say that we continue to support the government with PPE and other consumables.”

While we never stopped creating branded material for companies who want to put their name in front of clients, PPE is still a huge focus for our company. COVID-19 hasn’t gone away and having the right equipment to confront the crisis is essential to getting back to normal.

Make no mistake: the PPE we provide is not just for the United States. We ship PPE worldwide, wherever it’s needed most. Deliveries are still made as safely and quickly as possible, whether COVID-19 is surging or not.

PPE for Your Company

Thankfully, things are edging closer to normal again. Rescheduled concerts are now being performed, movie theaters are filling up, businesses are hosting events, and social gatherings are taking place again. 

Perhaps you have a large event coming up and need to provide personal protective equipment to your guests. Custom Specialty Promotions is ready to partner with you. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have about the PPE products and services we offer. Contact us today!

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