Follow the Leaders
This Member Chat episode was recorded on April 23, 2020.
In this VACEOs CEO Series Chat we meet Todd Mawyer, President of TK Promotions. One of the ways Todd and his team have responded to this crisis is to find ways to help others. His company soon partnered with Trolley House Refreshments to assemble and deliver goody bags to front line health workers at a local hospital. Todd is determined to find the positive and “face the storm like a buffalo.” Listen in as Scot McRoberts, Executive Director of VACEOs, checks in with this CEO.
Well. Hey Scot McRoberts with Virginia Council of CEOs here. I’m back for another CEO chat and today I’m talking with Todd Mawyer. Todd is owner and CEO of TK promotions. Thanks for being with me. Todd. Why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us what you do for a living?
Thanks Scot. Appreciate you having me. TK promotions is a promotional products branding firm based in Innsbrook and we are in the reputation business. There are a lot of ways to brand yourselves as a company and we have chosen the promotional products niche as an advertising medium to focus on and really try to focus on helping clients build their brands and their reputations within the marketplace. We have several segments of business. One is the, the government as well as another segment is a higher end market as well as corporate clients that we work with. Both locally and nationally.
Yeah, I’ve seen some of the work you’ve done for JMU, my Alma mater. Always happy to see, see that logo on stuff. And you’ve done some work for Virginia council of CEOs as well. So yeah, I appreciate that. I think it’s pretty critical that you get your brand on a, a lot of stuff and particularly in these days where we’re using a lot of this video and this visual medium I’m going to have to do a better job of getting our logo onto people like you, the CEOs in our community. So I’ll be talking to you about that here. So tough times for most businesses in the marketing space. Is that true?
It’s certainly a tough time. I think in general, certainly in the marketing space as typically marketing is one of the first budgets to be cut when revenue drops. There’s a story I heard recently about how to change how, you know, face different storms and it was basically a cow will run away from a storm and it basically elongates the ability for them to face the storm by running away from it as opposed to a buffalo that runs into a storm. It phases it quicker, but it gets through it faster.
And what we’ve chosen to as a company and what we’ve advised our clients on is facing the storm in a way that, that looks at it, but then it gets through it faster by developing marketing strategies some of which might be digital marketing and different things like that, but some of it might be thinking of your clients in a way and touching them to where they, where they are today and that’s at home and interacting with them through a tangible promotional product.
And so we’ve been educating a lot of clients and having lots of conversations on what that looks like for their specific need. And that’s the kind of the approach that we’ve chosen to do as a company. And invest more in marketing during this time, invest in our clients abilities to do that for themselves.
Well, that’s certainly what we’re doing, that’s facing the storm as the way to go. A lot of our Members I’ve seen them doing some more additional marketing or different kind of marketing or facing new markets. So I think that that’s brilliant. Now one of the things I saw you did was you use your resources, which is the tangible product, promotional product kind of space to provide some support for our healthcare workers. Can you tell me about that project?
Yeah, so I’ve been viewing the critical care employees in the healthcare community just as much as I view soldiers going overseas and being deployed for military service. They’re sacrificing their own lives essentially to care for others.
We work with HCA, which is Chippenham hospital and Johnson Willis Hospital in South side and had thought about how we can provide a positive impact for those on the front lines and devised a goody bag project that we worked with Trolley House Refreshment — Scott Halloran and Cat Carbone at Trolley House — to get a number of their products that they had an inventory some of which might be needed to be moved due to expiration dates and things like that. So we were utilizing some products from them to put in a bag that would give critical care employees, something to kind of keep them moving throughout the day as well as some tangible promotional products. And a thank you message of just a sincere gratitude for their service. And we kitted them all together and took him over there to the hospital and they distributed them to all those folks on the front line and really got some good feedback from them and a lot of appreciation for what we did.
That’s a great thing to do and a great example of just partnering with likeminded business owners. That’s fantastic. Thank you for doing that. Yeah. So life is, is really odd right now. I’m in my living room. You happen to be in your office. Are you working out of your office most of the time or what’s going on?
The first three and a half weeks I spent at home as we watched all this unfold last week I chose to come into the office for a few days and I’ve done that as well this week. Just for a different change of perspective and it’s allowed me to accomplish the same work with the same amount of isolation, but with a brand new hat on. And it’s it’s allowed me to think more creatively. It’s allowed me to have some, probably some extended conversations with, with folks in my quote unquote normal environment at work. And but also balance out with going home. As you can imagine.
You know, working from home is got its own challenges but working at the office when I’m a wife and three kids are at home by themselves also provides its own challenges. So I’ve tried to balance that as best as I know how. And fortunately I have a very strong wife at home that’s been very good with our children.
Awesome. Now how about your staff, your employees? You’re a sales and marketing organization and a lot of what you do is consulting with your clients to help them advance their marketing objectives. What are your people doing? Are they talking to your clients? Are they prospecting or what are they doing?
A lot of what we have been doing the last several weeks Scot, certainly engaging our clients in a new way. Engaging them as human beings and not just engaging them as prospects and clients. And just kind of providing a space that that they can talk openly and just talk with our team about life.
I have had a number of Zoom calls and Microsoft team calls with clients. Just checking in kind of talking about life, their challenges, working from home with kids talking about canceled and or postponed events when they might be happening, if they’re going to be rescheduled. And really just kinda getting a better idea of the landscape of which our clients are faced with now.
Some of them are still unknown. Some of them have become more clear in the last couple of days but really just engaging them and engaging our team. We spend a lot of time devising new marketing strategies internally with, with some accounts. It really tried to clean house as far as clean up the way that we do business, why we do it the way we do and kind of strengthening some of the processes that we’ve been operating under, but making them even more impressive as we go back to market when things turn around and be even better than we work for.
Fantastic. Well, Todd, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. I’ve got some takeaways here about, you know, branding yourself and your organization, and particularly, I admire the way you like the Buffalo facing the storm, getting through it faster, probably coming out stronger on the other side. So, good job. Thanks for your time today.
Absolutely. It’s good to be with you, Scot.
Listen in as Scot McRoberts, Executive Director, VA Council of CEOs, addresses VACEOs Members and Sponsors in this “State of the Union” address.
Says, Scot McRoberts, Executive Director, VA Council of CEOs: “I’ve never been more proud to say I’m the Executive Director of Virginia Council of CEOs.
We’re serving more small and midsize company CEOs than we have ever in our 20- year history. We’ve invited dozens of CEOs who are in our pipeline to join, to come join our community for free and with no commitment. We’ve rolled out 17 programs in the last six weeks. My staff has been scrambling. That’s about seven [times] what we had planned. We’ve converted our Retreat to our virtual event, and we have more coming.
Our Sponsors have stepped up in ways large and small, mostly giving away what they do to help us make it through this.
What I’m seeing is CEOs who are resilient, creative, and determined to make it through this crisis. We have much more coming in May and June — trying to continue to connect our community so they can help each other make it through this.
We look forward to having you with us on that journey. And so here’s my one word close: Forward.”
Early April, just as the COVID-19 crisis was completely revealing itself in Virginia, VACEOs Executive Director Scot McRoberts spoke with Sam Dibert, the President of Dibert Valve and Fitting Company, about the steps he was taking to manage his priorities and team.
Besides meeting with his VACEOs Roundtable every week, (instead of monthly), Sam finds that his “3-3-3 Tool” is a simple and effective way for business owners to reduce a lot of the static noise and information overload that naturally happens during a crisis. Below is a partial transcript of his conversation. (Find this CEO Chat and others on the VACEOs YouTube channel.)
How are you managing “this new normal”? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.
SCOT: “Tell us about the tool and why you turn to it.”
SAM: “Well, it’s something that I was just thinking about as this began to unfold and things were just changing so fast that I found myself getting overwhelmed with the amount of information coming from so many sources — everybody you knew. I was just feeling overwhelmed. What we thought was if we could take a break and try to look at the future in three distinct segments — three days, three weeks, and three months — and then build our plans and what we need to do around those timeframes, it helped a lot.
So the Three-Day, those are the challenges you see right in front of you. You know, you have to do it. It might be getting your loan in, [or taking care of a] real specific issue with a customer. Maybe somebody gets sick.
Three Weeks are our challenges that are still around the corner. You know, they’re there. You don’t have to deal with them right yet. You know you don’t have to act on them. Maybe you need just be formulating some thinking and some strategies.
And the Three-Month is really about the unknown, and that’s what’s over the horizon. How will we know when we’re kinda hitting the backend of this one? What will be the new normal? So it’s a lot about trying to figure out what kind of information can I count on to help inform me, help me do that. So that’s really the gist of it. And then when people see the tool, there’s just some prompts there [to help them think].
It’s not a project management tool, but it will help you really sort through what you need to do next and help you prioritize things.
I think everybody wants to know what do I do next, what do I do after that, and what to do after that. And you know, when you get to that point, you’ve got enough to do for now.
It helps you sleep at night, helps you do the next thing. But you might also find when you look into this tool, it’ll help you to enlist your leadership team — people in your company who are probably more anxious than you.”
Related COVID-19 video:
As we reach the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, most businesses are planning for how to reopen safely during COVID-19. Even as we reach the peak, it will be important to wait several weeks thereafter to allow the diminished risk to take hold. Only then will we be able to safely return to our new normal.
As doctors providing patient care during this pandemic, we are also counseling our corporate clients throughout the country on how to safely reopen their businesses, while at the same time determining the safest way to reopen our own business. Knowing there’s a greater need in the community for this advice, we’re happy to share it with everyone who is attempting to balance safety with economic reality.
When reopening your business, plan with the longer-term in mind. Be prepared to implement strategies that will be in place for many months and not just a couple of weeks. It is likely that the COVID-19 risk will remain high for at least the next year until a vaccine can be developed and distributed on a large scale.
We will get better at treating the virus over time, which will help, but it will take a continued commitment to social distancing guidelines and strategies that reduce contagion while at the office to limit the risk to your employees and your business as much as possible. The alternative is dealing with a viral outbreak at your office, and no one wants that.
When thinking about reopening, you should focus on three things:
With time, employees will slowly return to the workplace. But be careful about the rate and staging which people come back first. This process needs to be slow and methodical to ensure no employee is put at risk and all employees understand their role in maintaining as safe an environment as possible. Base your decisions on three factors:
With employees back at the office, it will be critical to continue practicing basic social distancing guidelines, while also implementing specific workplace policies to limit the risk to your employees. Your employees will go from spending most of the day around the same few people at home to spending most of the day around more people and then dispersing back home every night. If not handled properly, your office could become a petri dish for viral contamination and put not only your employees at risk but also their families. Some suggestions:
Some employers are considering more extreme measures like required temperature checks and antibody testing or hiring a nurse to check symptoms at the door. These are expensive measures for any business, particularly small businesses, and they are not foolproof. The contagion period of the virus can begin as early 2-3 days prior to any symptoms appearing, so if one of your employees spikes a fever, it may just tell you that your business has been exposed for the last 48 hours. And you can have the antibodies, but not necessarily be immune to getting COVID-19 again or a different version of it as the virus mutates with time.
That is why it’s so important to wear a mask, wash your hands, limit unnecessary interactions, and stay as far apart as possible.
Never has there been a better time, or a more important time, to double down on any wellness initiatives and encourage your employees to get healthier. We likely have a full year, at least, before a vaccine is developed.
Improving our health – eating healthier, exercising more, sleeping better – helps enhance the immune system. By focusing on living a healthy lifestyle, we improve the chances that we will be strong enough to fight the virus if we contract it before a vaccine is developed. Given that some estimates indicate between 50%-80% of the world’s population will eventually be exposed to the virus, it’s critical that we do everything possible in advance to give our body the tools it needs to ward the virus off.
That might involve restarting a corporate wellness program administered by HR. It must just involve encouraging all employees to take a break and go for a walk outside at least once per day. It might even involve implementing an executive health program with health coaching at your company using a resource like PartnerMD.
But at the very least, it means creating a culture that that promotes getting our weight down, working on nutrition habits and blood sugar levels, stopping smoking, and moving more. By helping your employees improve their health, you’ll be helping protect your business as well.
About the Authors
In addition to treating patients as an internal medicine physician, Dr. Steven Bishop serves as Director of Wellness at PartnerMD.
Editors Note: Content provided by PartnerMD, a Sponsor of Virginia Council of CEOs.
Listen in as Scot McRoberts, Executive Director of VA Council of CEOs, addresses Virginia business owners.
Now, during this unprecedented time of COVID-19, VA Council of CEOs is even more committed to serving the CEOs of Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia. That’s why for a limited time we are offering a no-cost and no-strings membership to those who would most benefit from this offer.
In a video message to local CEOs, VACEOs Executive Director, Scot McRoberts says, “I’ve spoken to a lot of CEOs over the last several weeks. Like them, I know you’re hurting. Our community of small and mid-sized business owners is hurting too. In this time of uncertainty, I see our Members leaning on each other now more than ever.
Where we once met together in person to share experiences and to connect and learn from each other, we’re now meeting virtually in peer roundtable groups, private chats, and exclusive webinars and information sharing sessions. I’m happy to report that our members are finding the comfort and empathy that they need from others who are facing the same challenges as you and they’re finding the information and resources they need to move forward.
Today we’re extending a special offer to those CEOs who would most likely benefit from our community. No strings, no cost. During this time, you can join Roundtable meetups, listen in on our exclusive webinars and connect with a community of peers who are dealing with the same crisis as you,” he says, adding, “We will get through this and many of us will be stronger. Don’t face this difficult time alone. Join us. No strings, no cost.”
This offer is extended through September 30, 2020 and is for business owners who will most benefit from our programming and community. More specifically, those CEOs who manage a business in Richmond and/or Charlottesville, Virginia with more than $1 million in revenue and employ five or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs).
Community Members will have access to:
Do you run a business with more than $1M in revenue and employ five or more FTE? Take advantage of this special offer. Apply here today and select “Community Membership”.