Four days after Allegis Corp. director of sales Rick Frank took a call from a customer looking for face shields to protect health care workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minneapolis-based company had designed, produced and shipped out 5,000 of them.
Allegis took on the project, Frank said, despite having never before made a face shield in the 50-year history of the company, a leading supplier and manufacturer of custom handles, hinges and latches and other access hardware.
Knowing that the first shipment of shields and a follow-up order of 5,000 more were going to doctors, nurses and front-line staff at a medical center in Washington was “humbling,” Frank said.
It also illustrated the value of listening to customers and being nimble in challenging times.
“We’ve always adapted to change,” Frank said. “Our philosophy is, give us a chance to do it and we’re going to do it.”
Allegis now positions its face shields as personal protective equipment for workers at North American manufacturing and processing companies, its traditional customers, Frank said. Allegis, which makes the face shields in this country with components from domestic suppliers, produces them on demand these days.
The face shields also serve to highlight the manufacturing capabilities Allegis gained in October, Frank said. That’s when CEO Clayton Keister acquired Rhopac Fabricated Products. The Illinois-based company converts nonmetallic materials into die-cut products.
The expanded services have helped Allegis land new projects that are generating additional revenue, Frank said, such as producing snowplow blade parts.
Frank, who has three decades of experience in industrial distribution, rejoined Allegis 18 months ago after previously working for the company for seven years.
Allegis has 140 employees in Minneapolis and at distribution centers around the country, Frank said.
Q: Why is Allegis targeting manufacturers and processors for face shield sales?
A: We stayed away from medical and retail because there are so many people doing that. Our focus was on making sure that we could promote ourselves to our current customer base with our new capabilities, our manufacturing and converting capabilities to show them what we’re doing. Then orders started ensuing. We sampled and sold face shields to about 1,600 of our customers. From the safety standpoint of the front-line worker a lot of companies have shifted to make sure they practice safe social distancing in larger manufacturing environments.
Q: How has the pandemic affected Allegis?
A: From a sales standpoint it was a lot of shock and awe. We relied on a lot of customer face-to-face visits. Now you bring in your entire sales staff and they become all prospectors and they’re working the phones. It’s been absolutely crazy to see the number of opportunities that have generated new sales with new customers that we’ve never had before. As bad as COVID has been it’s shown us that there are better ways to do things.
Q: What are some of Allegis’ differentiators?
A: We sell to multiple segments — web, catalog and (vendor managed inventory) services. Our model has always been to keep it on the shelf, understand the consumption, listen to your customer and be nimble enough to move with the ebbs and flows of the economy. We have a very large domestic supply chain. We also have a supply partner in Guadalajara that’s part of one of our key supplier’s manufacturing partners out of Sweden. So we are able to avoid a lot of the tariffs that were imposed.
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is email@example.com.