Joe Luckring,
Regional President for the Akron, Ohio Market, PNC Bank

Featured Webcast Speakers:

Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, Executive Chair, GOJO

Carey Jaros, Chief Executive Officer, GOJO




Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome you to our first webcast in PNC's 12th Annual Women in Business Week.  Today's webcast is titled, "The Women Who Built the Brand: Making Purell a Household Name."

Before we get started, I'd like to mention that today's web seminar is being recorded and you are currently in a listen-only mode.  It is my pleasure to introduce your moderator for today, and that is Joe Luckring, Regional President of the Akron, Ohio market for PNC Bank.

Joe, you have the floor.


Joe Luckring:

Thank you, Ian, and welcome, everyone.  Really appreciate you joining us here this morning for another Women in Business Week here at PNC. We're so honored to kick things off with two very high-achieving women leaders in the Greater Akron community, as well as the international hygiene and skincare space.

I want to personally welcome Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, Executive Chair, and Carey Jaros, CEO, of GOJO Industries, and thank them for both agreeing to be with us today as well as for the outstanding decades-long relationship that we share between our mutual organizations.

Ladies, it's a real treat to be talking with both of you to explore issues relevant to all working women who are tuning in, as well as the business owners and executives who can learn from your experiences.

So, GOJO is now on its 76th year and third generation of leadership.  It's fascinating to me that in the 1940s, which is a very different era from now, the company was co-founded and co-led by a wife and husband team.  Back then, women typically didn't work in business, and certainly not as equal partners with men.

Marcella, it was your Great Aunt Goldie who identified an important human problem that needed solving, and your Great Uncle Jerry who worked with her and others to innovate the solution that GOJO was founded on.  In fact, GoJo is a combination of their two names.

Marcella, can you provide us a little deeper insight into the founding story and how things developed back then?


Marcella Kanfer Rolnick:

Sure, Joe.  Thank you so much, and to the whole PNC community for having Carey and me.  We're so thrilled, like you said, for our partnership which dates back generations, actually, not just even decades, and opportunity to speak to you today.

You really have the story quite right in terms of the essence of what makes it so special.  So, Jerry and Goldie were co-equals in finding out a way to make a really strong business in Akron, Ohio.  SO during the 1940s, as many of us know, Akron was the rubber capital of the world and men were going off to fight in the war.  So, women -- just think Rosie the Riveter -- were working on the factory floors.  My Great Aunt Goldie was a supervisor in a rubber company, and she came home one night and complained to Jerry and said, "It's just not right that we have to use benzene and kerosene, and we just rip our skin to shreds after a good day of work," right.  They were getting carbon black, and there was no healthy, safe way to get our hands clean.

And Jerry, who was a consummate entrepreneur, and quite frankly, hadn't really found his big win yet, he said, well, we're going to do something about that.  So as a 10th grade dropout, even though he was super smart at the time, he was more of a tinkerer and a hands-on kind of person; not a traditional academic.  He had the courage to knock on the door of a chemistry professor at Kent State University, right around the corner, and that individual happened to have some relevant expertise.  And so Goldie, Jerry, and Clarence Cook worked for a number of days, weeks and months to come up with a first heavy-duty hand cleaner.

And really, they saw this as an important way to help people have a better life, be able to go home at night, and hold hands with their loved ones, pick up their babies, and not be in pain after a good hard day of work.


Joe Luckring:

Fantastic.  Those entrepreneurial stories still, to this day, just amaze me in terms of how things develop and continue to do so.

Marcella, what things have you done to ensure that GOJO is a place where a diverse collection of professionals can continue to grow and develop?


Marcella Kanfer Rolnick:

Well, you know, as I was saying, Joe, from the very beginning, Goldie and Jerry created a culture of inclusivity and equity.  I think about Eleanor Morris, who was their first employee.  She sat around the lunch table with Jerry and Goldie because they worked hard, day-to-day, shoulder-to-shoulder, and it just didn't feel right for Jerry and Goldie to eat lunch and not include their teammate.  And over the years, we've expanded that, and even to this day, we provide all kinds of food and drinks for people who are working hard on their shifts or during their days to join us.

But it even goes beyond that.  In the 1950s, it's pretty astounding to hear the story but they were looking for some really good, hard-working people to help them build out their first formal manufacturing environment, moving from a small little mom-and-pop organization.  And the best help they found happened to be two openly-gay women who ended up leading their supply chain at the time.  And it wasn't that they were trying to make a statement, or be political and social activists.  They were really just saying -- we see the essential dignity in every person and we see a work ethic and shared values in these two women, and believe that they could help us build a great culture out of the gate in our first manufacturing facility.  And they were right.

And so I would say, this ethos, this culture, these values, have really carried through all this way to the year we're in right now, and will shape our future, too.  We now have explicit values -- people at the core, and better together -- and those require us at GOJO to honor the essential dignity of all people, and to bring in and listen to diverse voices.  And so while it was informal in the beginning, we actually now have been formalizing it with a DEI leader and a DEI strategy, and we're really excited about the progress we're continuing to make.


Joe Luckring:

Fantastic.  Another example of just great leadership.  Carrie, along those same lines, today GOJO is known as really a product and industry innovator, and on the cutting edge of development and creativity.  Can you give us some more perspective and some insight on some of the guiding principles that the organization has, and how you continue to foster that entire culture?


Carey Jaros:

Absolutely, Joe.  Thanks again for having us.  It's so exciting to be a part of this wonderful event.

So, I'm going to pull the thread from where Marcella was around our values, and she talked about two of our values, People at the Core, and Better Together.

I'm going to talk about two more:  Always Learning, and Bold Leadership.  And I really believe that it's those two values and the guiding principles that sit underneath them that allow us to be the kind of market-making innovator we are.

So, Marcella talked about Jerry and Goldie at the beginning, who really understood that it was about innovating to solve a real human problem that was going to do something that mattered in the world and then create value for the business.  And that concept of always learning for us is about being learners, not knowers.  It's about being hands-on and trying new things; keeping what works and getting rid of the rest.  It's about seeking insights from everyone and everywhere, and then sharing what we learn with others.

And if you think about what Jerry was doing, walking the halls at Kent State University, finding Professor Cook, working with Goldie and Professor Cook to develop that first formula, there was so much learning that had to happen.  Goldie and Jerry were not chemists.  They had no background in producing a skincare formula, but they were curious and they knew that they wanted to solve that real human problem.  And they were willing to go out into the world and do anything they needed to do to learn about how to solve it.

Bold leadership, as I said, is the other value that I think really drives us, and we say explicitly that bold leadership for us is about innovating for a better world.  We feel called to do that.  We believe that we're good at it, and that it's a way that we can make a difference and deliver on our GOJO purpose of saving lives and making life better.  But it's also about taking on challenges that no one else will, and then inspiring others to join us in that journey.  And it's about imagining how might we?  So, we say all the time when we're facing one of these real human problems that seems hard to solve, we can think of a thousand reasons why we can't.  But how might we?  What would it look like to open our aperture and think about it differently?


Joe Luckring:

That's fantastic.  You know, some of the things that I hear from entrepreneurs all the time, especially when it comes to their teams, and when organizations continue to grow, that cultivating that idea generation and getting people to kind of step out of the box gets a little tougher.  Folks don't want to make mistakes.  They don't want to be called out on something that might not be the greatest of ideas.  But I also hear in the same breath that there's so much to be learned from failure, for the most part, to say it kind of bluntly.

Can you give us some insight in how you kind of keep those juices going, and make it comfortable for people to kind of grow, share, and continue to innovate in that way?


Carey Jaros:

Absolutely.  So, yes.  I agree with you that entrepreneurial mindset is sort of at the heart of having a culture that produces amazing innovation.  We are very science-based at GOJO, and I've done a lot of reading around how to sort of build and maintain an entrepreneurial mindset.  The good news is, we have -- we have it in our genes from the very beginning, from Goldie and Jerry.  But passion for solving problems, that grit and resilience that you just talked about, is so essential.  And then having that learning agility.

And you know, what we've done here is, we've really made it -- we've made it about the learning rather than about being right; about the -- being a learner rather than a knower.  And what that means is when we take on a new hard problem, we say going into it we're going to fail fast and fail cheap, here.  We know that we're going to have to take a run at this over and over again, and try lots of different things.  So we're not assuming that we're going to be successful right out of the gate.  We give ourselves permission to recognize that it's actually through those failures that we're going to learn, and then the next try that we take at it we're going to be better.

And I think having a culture where you assume out of the gate that failure is actually great, because it's an opportunity to learn, that totally changes the game for the organization and sets you up to continue to sort of evolve and implement new innovations that really can be -- can really be breakthrough in market marking.


Marcella Kanfer Rolnick:

You know, I'm going to just add a couple things, if I can.  So this actually goes way back to our founding two.  Jerry always said, "The last person you fire is the person who made a mistake and learned from it."  He said, why would you do that?  Because the next person you hire hasn't had that mistake, and hasn't had that learning opportunity, and you're going to have to pay the cost of that learning yet again.  And I think that just has permeated our ethos and Carrie leads that way every day.

And we also, by the way, we try to de-risk it.  So it's not just that we say everyone should go out and fail.  We have something called the fitness landscape, where we have a lot of lines in the water.  So we make sure that while we expect some failures and a lot of learning through them, we also expect some things to actually hit and work.


Joe Luckring:

Fantastic.  So you said something, Carrie, that kind of caught my attention.  You have to -- you've succeeded by innovating.  You've went from a company that made hand cleaner to really a full-service skincare company, and you've done it by -- and I hope I say the words correctly -- failing fast and failing cheap.  How do you manage that dynamic?  Sometimes, that doesn't always necessarily work out that way.  So when do you know to forge ahead, when do you know to kind of pull the plug?


Carey Jaros:

Yeah.  That's a great question, and so Marcella talked a little bit about this concept of de-risking.  We use a process here for our innovation called Stage Gate.  Lots of companies use it.  I think what we do that is different than lots of companies is, we try to pull forward what we call the death threats on a project, to the very beginning.  And so, many companies will go through a Stage Gate process, and they sort of go in order and work to develop the product.  And then when they've developed the product, then they think about how they're going to launch it.  We really try to think both on the product development side, so the technical risk, and on the market side, the market risk.  We try to think about those things in parallel and pull forward what could be death threats to the product's eventual success, doing what it's supposed to do.  And we try to learn about those things first.

And what that means is, we identify often very early, issues that might not have come up somewhere else until you were at Gate 4 or Gate 5.  We identify them early and say, hey, we've either got to figure out how to mitigate this death threat, or this project's going to get killed and we're going to have to come at the problem a new way.  And I think that that -- it's -- innovation engineering is sort of a mindset there.  And I think having that death threat review early makes a huge difference and allows us to really be efficient in our investments with our time and with our people.


Joe Luckring:

Fantastic.  Great perspective.  I'd love to talk a little bit about the pandemic and what a challenge in both -- both challenge and opportunity that was for you guys.  But before we dive into that a little bit, there have been other kind of public health related challenges throughout the years that created surges in demand and things of that nature.  Can you speak a little bit about some of those, what you learned from them and maybe how that helped a little bit in what you had to pivot around this most recent pandemic?


Marcella Kanfer Rolnick:

Sure.  Joe, we are in the everyday health and wellbeing business, which means that we believe that you don't need a crisis to practice simple acts of hand hygiene, surface hygiene, just to keep yourself safe and healthy, your kids going to school, the teachers teaching, people working, you know -- having the kind of healthy life we'd all like.

And yet, I would not be telling the truth if I didn't say that our business and our categories -- in particular, Purell Hand Sanitizer -- weren't very sensitive impacted by outbreaks.  And of course, we're all living through the biggest, most significant one of our lifetimes.  But just even in the past 20 years we've had significant impact in our business.  SARS, H1N1, Avian Flu, particularly bad seasonal flus which come every fall and winter, Ebola.  So the list actually goes on, and some of them are bigger than others for us.  I can specifically talk about H1N1, which happened in 2009.  That was the biggest surge that we've ever had.  And we at that time had to go to 24/7 manufacturing and distribution.  We made three times the amount of product that we had made, the run rate the year before.  And we were really okay doing that even though it took everything out of our teams to do it.

And the reason why is, we really see ourselves as a public health company.  And unfortunately, at this point, our categories are not at full penetration -- well, sanitizer in particular -- which means that a lot of people aren't in the category.  They don't actually have sanitizer with them before a crisis outbreak.  And suddenly we have a flood of new entrants and people who are in our category actually want more of the Purell sanitizer they've come to love and trust.  And so our job is to really respond to that public health crisis as well as to help train people to develop new, simple habits, so that next time they're prepared.  And if they already have that Purell in hand, they already have that good hand hygiene surface -- hygiene center practices.

So our job is to both respond in the moment and hold on to folks so that they can be better prepared the next time.  And then the surge amplitude won't be quite as steep for us.


Joe Luckring:

Fantastic.  Appreciate that perspective.  Switching gears here a little bit, another very significant development in the company's history happened over the course of probably a little bit under a decade.  In 2004, the Purell brand as well as some of your consumer business was sold to Pfizer.  Then the brand itself was sold to Johnson & Johnson, I believe, in 2006.  And then the family decided to buy it back in 2020, and has kind of moved forward ever since.  So a lot of kind of strategic decision making and things going on in that period of time.  Can you kind of take us through the process of where -- how you landed on kind of each decision going forward, and how you kind of came full circle?


Marcella Kanfer Rolnick:

Sure.  So, prior to 1997, we really were strictly a B2B company, which means that we sell through distribution to away-from-home markets like education, healthcare, food service, and everywhere else that the public goes.

In 1997, we had so much interest in our Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer in the professional realm, that let's say nurses, for instance, would go home and take their sample products and share it with their families and their friends, that we got so many strong signals that we needed to build a B2C business, that we did in fact do that.  So it was actually less than a decade of being in B2C that we realized we were having tremendous success in having created the category.  But it really took a significantly different approach to marketing.

And we were in for it on the US side, but in terms of our rest-of-world and global business, we could do healthcare and other away-from-home selling and marketing but we just didn't have the muscle to do B2C around the world.  And Pfizer approached us and said, hey, we think our synergy between our consumer muscle around the world and your away-from-home in particular healthcare strength, that we could do an incredible joint venture and sort of go take the world by storm with Purell.  So we were very interested in that, and started our due diligence process.  In the end, though, and maybe this was the Trojan horse, I'll ever know -- but in the end, they actually gave us an offer we couldn't refuse and that was to just take our entire consumer business and take the brand, but allow us a perpetual exclusive brand arrangement so that we could continue to do Purell R&D, selling, marketing, into the away-from-home markets.

So in essence, we believed that we got the deal we wanted.  It just so happened that we were going to sell the asset and have some really tremendous partnership arrangements.  So we did that, and unfortunately, within a year, became very obvious that they were distracted.  And as you mentioned, J&J bought the entire consumer portfolio from Pfizer just a year after that.  And then when that happened, a half-time product manager got put on the Purell brand, and that's compared to our entire organization that was rallying around Purell in the B2B side.  And so the vision, the dream that we had when we went into the deal just really wasn't manifesting.  And it was okay, but it just wasn't what we had hoped for.

But then as I mentioned, H1N1 in 2009, we instantly -- I remember, I think it was April 24, 2009 -- it was a Friday afternoon and word had come around media that H1N1 had entered into the US.  And we instantly turned on our productive capacity.  We reached out to our J&J counterparts and said, hey, tell us what you want to do.  At that time, we were still contract manufacturing for them.  We said, we're ready to go 24/7 and blow the roof off.  And they just said, you know, no, we don't want to do that.  And really what happened was, we had the best year ever on the B2B side and J&J, they sold through their entire inventory.  But the rest of the market, who did respond to H1N1 demand, got to capture that upside.

At that point, we realized that we just had a very different mindset and ultimately we are able to go to them as the dust settled, after H1N1, and say, hey, look -- why don't we just buy the Purell brand back from you and that way we can run it the way that we think it has to be run in these surge moments.  And they agreed, so we bought it back.


Joe Luckring:

Fantastic.  So this is a little bit of a loaded question, because entire books have been written on this topic.  But you guys have been through this, so perhaps your best advice when someone is considering the sale of their organization or their family's business, for that matter.  What kind of decisions and/or information should you be most aware of?  What are the kind of key pitfalls?  And then ultimately, what did you learn most out of that entire experience?


Marcella Kanfer Rolnick:

You know, that's a -- great sets of questions.  I guess I would just say first of all, be extremely clear on your own objectives and goals.  Why are you doing this?  What does success look like?  And anchor I your own thoughts before you get pulled.  It's very easy to have shiny baubles distract you and get sort of caught up in the process.  So I would say just be extremely clear, make sure you have good people to talk to that can remind you of those objectives and goals.

And then, try to parse out, what are the conditions that must be in place that will or won't facilitate an insurer that those objectives and goals can be met?  Because if you don't have confidence, those conditions are going to hold that even maybe at the outset those objectives and goals might be met, but over time that can erode and you could find yourself in a situation that you're just not happy in.  And I'm talking about if you maybe sell a minority interest, or do some kind of partnership.  With an outright sale, I think that's a little bit cleaner.

And I guess what I would also say is, don't ignore signals that you're getting in the process of due diligence and negotiation.  Again, it's really easy to get caught up in the momentum and the emotion, in the big prize that you see dangling in front of you.  But you know, you should pay attention to your inner voice, to your gut, and say, are we getting any kind of signals that the objectives and goals that we have, and the conditions under which they're going to be met and not met, that it's not going to happen the way we want it to -- then really listen to those.  Don't push them off to the side, because probably more likely than not, they're telling you very valuable information.

And then finally, I guess, if you are doing something that's not an outright sale, but you'll still have a position, be really clear on control -- since conditions change, and you know, in our case we sold to one company and a different company ended up being our partner than we thought.  And it's just really important to sort of understand what will happen if something like that were to come to pass.


Joe Luckring:

Great.  Appreciate that perspective, Marcella.  Carey, similar kind of subject matter, but the opposite end.  So as you're looking at and approaching growth opportunities, be it by acquisition or major investment, what kind of advice would you provide for evaluating that type of endeavor?


Carey Jaros:

So Joe, we really believe that when you do things that create value, you create value.  And we don't tend to get really excited about buying pieces of business because they're for sale, right.  So I think to Marcella's point, really understanding and starting with really clear objectives, and then doing the work, is so much better than sort of opportunistically when stuff comes, just kicking off a process.  Now, you can't always do that.  You've got to be -- you know, you've got to be -- you've got to take things when they come your way and address them.  But I think in general, having a set of objectives around how you -- why you want to grow the business and how you want to grow the business, and then doing the hard work to have a pipeline of activity going at all times, is going to put you in a much better position to be -- to work through a process with good, guiding principles, and good criteria.

I'll liken it to how we think about new product development.  So we use a process for new product development and it starts with jobs theory, which is the idea of really going out and understanding where there are circumstances of struggle in the world, real human problems -- circumstances of struggle, and really understanding what the job is to be done for that customer, and innovating against the job.  So may companies fall in love with their own solutions, so they develop something that seems really cool, or they find some technology and then they go out in the world with that solution and look for a problem.  And I think that that -- the lesson that is in that, that I think is pretty obvious, which is you're much better off starting with the problem and developing a great solution because then you've got a customer who is struggling before and really excited about what you're bringing, versus going out and trying to get somebody excited about a solution for a problem maybe they didn't know they had.

I think the same thing applies when you're thinking about growth, and especially when you're thinking about growth or acquisition.  Much better off trying to figure out what problem you're trying to solve, and going out and looking for a solution, than the other way around.


Joe Luckring:

Very good.  Appreciate that, Carey.  Let's pivot a little bit here, and talk a little bit about the pandemic, which was obviously a major consideration throughout your entire organization.  First of all, I wanted to personally thank you for the service to your country and the world, and PNC for that matter, because we have Purell stations throughout all of our facilities in our footprint.  But that was a meaningful need that was fulfilled by you and your team throughout, again, the entire country in a time of real human struggle, as you mentioned earlier.

Some of the data is somewhat mind blowing.  I mean, 140 billion doses of Purell given out in 2020 alone, doubling your manufacturing facilities, growing your workforce during a pandemic when folks were having so many struggles to just maintain as opposed to grow.  So, Carey, can you give us some perspective on that experience, and 2019 leading into 2020?  And when did you realize something big was happening, and then how did you kind of go about addressing it?


Carey Jaros:

Absolutely.  And Marcella, please chime in if there are times when you have something to add.

We walked through this together holding hands with the rest of our amazing team.  So you know, we have a -- Marcella talked a little bit about H1N1, SARS, Ebola.  You know, we are no stranger to dealing with increases in demand that are driven by illness.  And so we always have a team working in our background -- we call them detect and alert, and they're active all the time.  It's like the software that runs on your computer that you're not paying attention to, but it's always there.  And our detect and alert team is looking at what's going on around the world with respect to any kinds of illness, and if there's something that's happening somewhere, they start to track it, pay attention to it, and share what they're learning so that we can be way ahead of any kind of potential impact on our business and ready to respond.  So, that team was running, as it always is.  And at the end of December and early January, they were sharing updates with us about a mysterious illness in Wuhan, China.  And you know, there was nothing yet that was impacting our business, but we were getting briefings from that team on a regular basis.

On January 21, I received an email from the team member at GOJO who runs our international business, saying hey, this -- this illness in China seems to be getting very serious, and our distributor there wants us to air freight a bunch of sanitizer.  And that email was really the very beginning of the impact on our business and our response.

Quickly, things began to accelerate.  By the middle of February we had to make the decision to turn on all of our manufacturing 24/7.  We were still in person.  I remember sitting in the conference room with a bunch of folks around the table, and as we do with really any important decision, we talked about it openly.  We got perspectives from everybody who was there based on their experiences at GOJO, their experiences other places, their read of the data.  And ultimately I had to make the call that day to turn on the manufacturing 24/7.  You know, I talked to Marcella, and others, and said, do we all feel good about this?  Because we are about to make a tremendous amount of product, and if this thing doesn't turn out to create an increase in demand we're going to have some challenges that naturally come with significant staffing up and overproduction.

It turned out that thank goodness we made the call, and we certainly did not have too much, I will tell you.  And so quickly, then, we had to turn our attention to the next set of issues.  I would say those were two-fold.  The first set were -- at that moment the world began to shut down.  And so we had to deal with the very real challenge of making sure our own team members were safe.  At the same time as their colleagues from every -- and their communities -- were all going home to shelter in place, we were asking our folks to ramp up and be 24/7 in our manufacturing facilities.  And so we had to make sure that we were doing that in a way that took care of them, took care of their families.  We did things like put nurses in our plants to make sure we could follow up on any symptoms.  We took temperatures.  We social distanced on our lines and changed literally the approach we had on our lines to staffing so that we could have enough space between people.  We masked, we did lots of things like bring in box lunches for people who were working around the clock.  And so all of that was --


Marcella Kanfer Rolnick: We gave them extra Purell, right?


Carey Jaros: -- extra Purell, yeah.  So that was happening sort of around the clock, and then on the other side of the house the next big sets of constraints were beginning to appear.  So if you think about producing it 24/7, when you haven't planned for that, we needed to get access to raw materials.  And I will tell you we burned through our entire annual contracts for ethanol, which is obviously a critical raw material in all of our Purell products -- alcohol.  We burned through those annual contracts by April.  And so -- and it was just as the pandemic was really starting to approach its peak.

And so we had to source ethanol.  We have very, very, very strict requirements around quality.  And so that was a significant effort, to get the highest quality ethanol at a time when everybody else was trying to get their hands on it too.  We had to buy bottles and pumps, and so all that sourcing happened, and we got very creative.

I don't know if you've ran into -- we did a partnership with P&G and they let us use their Dawn dish soap bottles, to fill them with our Purell.  So we made the Purell and filled these Dawn dish soap bottles, because they were squeezable so you didn't need a pump.  We did all kinds of other creative things on sort of sourcing of raw materials and components.  And then I would say sort of the final stage was, okay, this is serious -- it's sticking around.  The magnitude and duration of this is unlike anything we've ever seen before.  We need to invest to really permanently expand our capacity.  And so that really began a phase that has now gone on really for a couple of years, of really building out our capacity.

In the end, we will have spent over 10 years of our typical CapEx.  Thank you, PNC, for being great supporters in that process.  We will have increased our capacity from, depending on the product line, from 3x or 5x all the way up to 10x or 25x, depending on the product line.

We went from two to five facilities that are permanent in Northeast Ohio, from a manufacturing and distribution perspective.  And we even built our own ethanol refining capabilities, so that we have captive ethanol that is of the highest quality, that we are refining ourselves, in Northeast Ohio using Ohio corn.

So, just a ton of capacity and a lot more control as part of that response.


Joe Luckring:

Great story about integration there; that's fantastic.  Marcella, what kind of things going -- having gone through that experience, and still being in it, to a large degree -- do you think would be very valuable for our leaders to hear out there in terms of kind of lessons learned about yourself, about your team, and how to manage through crisis situations?


Marcella Kanfer Rolnick:

Sure.  The first thing, and Carey already mentioned this, is that we had to take care of our people.  We are required by our own values and guiding principles to care for ourselves and others.  You can't take care of the world if you're not taking care of yourself.  And so we not only did all this stuff that Carey talked about, but we also made sure that we are communicating weekly to have them understand, why are we asking them to work so hard?  What was the emerging signs, what were we learning about the pandemic?  What did that mean for how we could all take care of ourselves, both on the job and off the job?  And so we really put people at the core to work.

The other thing I would say is, we did dig into our values and our purpose.  As a public health company, we had to be reminded every day, why are we doing this?  And I have to say, it felt pretty good in the midst of what could feel overwhelming and just, you know, dislocating that we can get up every morning and be purpose-driven, and say, how are our values going to help us make difficult decisions?  And so I would say to anyone out there, when you're going through both good and bad times, be really clear on the values that you're -- that you're operating.

Another way that we apply that is, as the demand continued to just come down and rain upon us, even though we really dramatically expanded our capacity and get all the thigs that Carey mentioned, we still couldn't fulfill all of the orders that we were getting.  And so at some point we had to come up with an allocation method, and it wasn't just an economic or quantitative algorithm.  It was really a value pace algorithm.  And we said, we need to make sure that the front line of this pandemic is served first:  healthcare workers; emergency workers; grocery workers.  And everything that was left over, which really wasn't much, we were able to spread out to other users and other customers.  And that was really difficult, but in the end I think all of our distributor partners, even thoughts that we couldn't serve the way we normally would, really understood that.

So I think when you have your values and your clarity of purpose and you can use that to communicate both inside and outside.  It's very powerful and you kind of keep people on the bus with you.


Joe Luckring:

So, when -- and I just noticed in my own experience, as you walk through looking for product, a lot of competitors cheap kind of -- you know, "gimmick" might not be the right word.  But other products, certainly of lesser quality, but when demand was so high everybody was grabbing everything.  Has that dynamic kind of come and gone?  Do you see yourself with more competitors in the market, or what's the situation regarding the competitive landscape, I guess, at this point in time.


Carey Jaros:

Yes.  I'll start, and Marcella, feel free to jump in.  So Joe, at the beginning of the pandemic, we got asked this all the time.  We get asked it very rarely now, so I think that -- I think that's an indication of what I'm about to say.  At the beginning, when we couldn't produce, we absolutely were supportive of anybody who could make high quality, safe product coming in.  I think the very first, most important thing to us was that people who needed hand sanitizer and other surface and skin disinfecting products could get them.  And what we learned very quickly, as did others, is that it's actually really hard to make really high quality, safe and effective hand sanitizer.  Hand sanitizer is an FDA-regulated, over-the-counter drug.  It has really rigorous standards for how it's manufactured and the quality of the ingredients, and obviously a lot of the folks who came into the market did not have the technical capability or maybe even the understanding of the space to adhere to that.  So, lots of bad experiences out there.  I think we all had them, where you put your hand out and you think you're going to get Purell and you get something that smells like tequila or something else.


Joe Luckring: Right.


Carey Jaros:

You know, the FDA ended up banning about 270 products, brands of products, over the course of the pandemic because they were either ineffective -- you know, they had -- they didn't have ethanol at the levels they needed to be effective to even kill germs -- or they had poisonous and dangerous ingredients, benzene, wood alcohol.  And so you know, the silver lining of all of that is that I think it really served to educate people on how important it is to have the science-based capabilities that we do, to be able to manufacture a product that's doing -- that's really a healthcare product.  It's an FDA-regulated, over-the-counter drug.  I think people's standards have gone up and what we found from lots and lots of both qualitative and quantitative research, is that we actually are in a much stronger position in terms of people's understanding of the category and our brand equity.

Coming out of the pandemic, our share as the Purell brand is higher than it's ever been at retail, even though we didn't serve retail particularly well in those early days when we were prioritizing healthcare and first responders.  And when you look at the data around people's expectations, not only do -- I think it's 84% of people expect to see hand sanitizer offered in public places, but 69% of people expect to see Purell hand sanitizer offered in public places.

You know, before the pandemic, that number would have been in probably in the low teens.  So there has really been an awakening around the importance of hand hygiene in general, but also of high-quality, safe, effective product that's made by experts.  And I think that's really good for public health, and it's certainly good for our business.


Joe Luckring:

Terrific.  I personally think it's here to stay.  It's a staple of mine, and I don't think that's ever going to go away.  Don't go too far without it.

Ladies, as we look to wrap up here a little bit, I want to ask you both one final question, for sure.  Based on your experiences and then knowing that the audience today really is a broad-based group of kind of senior-seasoned executives all the way down to college-age and/or graduate school-age women that are looking to either continue or start their journeys, what would be the I guess critical nuggets of advice that you would provide to these women as they continue on that path?


Marcella Kanfer Rolnick: Carey, do you want to go first?


Carey Jaros: Go ahead.


Marcella Kanfer Rolnick:

Okay.  So I guess I would first say pay attention to the culture of any organization you are thinking of joining, or maybe creating a meeting, really put a lot of attention there.  Because you're going to spend so many of your good waking hours with those people, living the values of that culture.  And it really can shape who you are outside of work and also it can affect your happiness and sense of I think alignment within yourself.  And getting to know yourself, really, what is the core competency?  Sort of the essence of who you are, and what you bring to the table, and where you're in flow.  And you can't really help but be who you are.  And so rather than running away from that or trying to be the person next to you, because you think they're looking good or are successful, really try to develop a deep self-awareness and self-understanding.  We have a competency approach at GOJO and self-understanding and self-awareness are really important to us.

And then you can build on that strength.  And by the way, we also believe in this concept of leadership molecule.  So, how do you both know your own strength and then find complementary atoms that you can build a really strong molecule?  So know what will wrap around you and try to set yourself up for success that way.

And then I guess the last thing I'll say is, you know, sometimes women get a bad rap for supposedly being competitive with other women.  It's just sort of astounding to me.  So I would just say, if ever you're starting to feel threatened by another woman, or you're somehow seeing that someone might be threatened by you, I would just try to focus back on those unique atomic strengths that each of you have and realize that you're both going to be better off if you're in it together.  And I think that's actually a testament to Carey and the way that we work together.  We're very complementary and we really respect each other and build off of each other.  And never once do I feel like we're in competition with each other.


Carey Jaros:

That's great, Marcella.  I -- I agree with everything you said.  And you know, I would have probably said exactly those same things, so I'll try to do some value-add.

One of the things that is so interesting about the speaking to groups of women is that it's easy to go into sort of general management talk about things that are relevant to all leaders, but to maybe ignore some of the things that are specifically relevant to this group.  Because they can seem uncomfortable or unpopular.  But I'm going to pick one, and then I'll go to a more general leadership topic.

The one that I think is so important as a woman, is really making sure that you build an ecosystem around you that is set up to support what you want.  So we talked a lot in this conversation about in general, getting clear about objectives up front, and going out to do the job or solve the problem.  In terms of my career, I knew that I wanted to have a role where I could really be a leader and have impact.  That's always been who I am; it's what I wanted to do.  And I made some really important choices myself and then with my husband to set up an ecosystem that really allows me to be my very best self.

We live in Cleveland, Ohio, where I grew up.  We have a lot of family here.  That gives us an incredible amount of support and connection to the community.  My husband, who I met in business school, who had big career aspirations of his own, we made the decision at some point for him to stay home so that I could do this.  And so, he raises our three girls.  And you know, those aren't easy decisions but they're decisions that need to be made really explicitly and strategically together.  And so I would encourage you to make sure you're having those conversations with the important people in your life, whoever they are.  Because a job like this or a career like this takes a tremendous amount of time, energy, resource, and you need to make sure that you're really set up to be successful.  Because if you're trying to do that while at the same time the ecosystem doesn't support it, it's really hard.

The other piece I'll bring is, taking us back to this concept of always learning.  I think in my early days of my career, I felt like I had to know everything.  I felt like I had to be a knower.  Because that's what -- that's what would show people that I belonged where I was, I deserved to be there, I should have the authority.  What I've learned over time is that in fact, the best leaders are incredibly humble, and they have both humility and high self confidence which is what it takes to be a learner, to constantly be curious, to be asking questions, to be getting perspectives from everyone, to be getting advice and input from everyone.  You have to have both humility and self confidence to do that.

And then you make decisions, because that is absolutely required.  But at the same time, when you learn new information, you've got to have the humility and the self confidence to evolve those decisions.  It's the way that we do product development; it's the way that we think about managing our own careers; and it's also how we have to show up to manage others.

So, I think figuring out how to have humility and self confidence, and be someone who can apply learnings and get better over time, is really important.


Joe Luckring:

Fantastic.  Marcella, Carey, thank you so much.  This has been just wonderful perspective today.  You guys are truly a gift here in sharing with certainly me and all of our guests here of PNC today.

It goes further than that.  You guys have been a gift to the community as great stewards, as well as to the entire world, in what you did to help us through this crazy pandemic that we're just hopefully on the tail ends of.  So again, thank you so much for your time and your energy and enthusiasm and insight today.  Thank you all who joined us here, on behalf of PNC.  I'm really grateful that you were able to dial in today and kick off Women in Business Week here in 2022.

Have a wonderful rest of the week, and again, thank you for your time and attention.


Carey Jaros: Thanks so much, Joe.


Marcella Kanfer Rolnick: Thank you.