It’s Wednesday, Sept 16, 2020, and I’m working at my desk at home in self-isolation. I had a runny nose last week, and we live in a time where that means I have symptoms of COVID 19. And if you show signs of any sort, it’s mandatory to stay home gee thanks!
But of course, I’m happy to have work to do, as a lot of people don’t right now. When I look back when I was a full-time event producer, I think things could be worse. My focus at the moment is on PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), and my list of tasks today (among other things) is to review these new design ideas from my artist buddy Mo Sherwood. Our company is in the process of making a line of PPE suitable for small children. If this sounds grim? It’s because it is. The mask protects from tiny droplets of the COVID 19 virus. Getting the virus means kids might become sick or make those around them deadly sick from the virus. That’s just crazy!
I think it’s regrettable because if anyone is suffering through this pandemic, it’s these poor little guys trying to learn the ropes of school through the eyes of a global epidemic. So, keeping my work in context, the idea that a protective shield shaped like a puppy dog or bunny rabbit face will make it a tad easier for kids to process, it’s okay with me.
That said, our company Crown Mutual Group is fully engaged in the PPE space. It’s become a critical pillar in its mandate to offer a compliance and certification process to the sector. Since COVID 19 began in April of this year, we have considered several opportunities that speak to our what we do as a Fin-tech company. Those have sprouted into other unique options and has led us into brokering PPE into the national market.
We currently have 10,000 protective face shields, a shipment of 12,000 surgical face masks with a BFE of 98% (that’s Bacteria Filtration Effectiveness to anyone new here) in both adult and children sizes and styles. We’ve even got the cartoon “Paw Patrol” and other fun colours and designs, warehoused locally.
Additionally, we successfully delivered our first PPE manufacturing equipment to a Kelowna company manufacturing several government contracts.
A whirlwind of activity was around my desk far removed from my professional background or what I could have imagined myself doing.
So, sitting back for a moment, I can’t help but think how the heck did I get here?!
So, let me back up to a year ago.
Last September 2019, I was super excited to have purchased a plane ticket to Las Vegas. This trip would be one of a few trips to Nevada with my associate Ray Serion. Ray and I met through an agency owned by familiar friends, where we shared an open desk environment for several months. We soon found common ground within a business initiative Ray brought to my attention called One World Ventures Inc. OWVI indexed on the OTC Markets as a verified public stock. (The OTC Markets Group is the largest and best-known coterie of trading networks. It consists of three stock exchanges: OTC Pink, OTCQB, and OTCQX.) The group has been working directly with the Navajo Nation government for several years on an economic recovery plan.
OWVI head offices are in Las Vegas, Nevada. OWVI works with the distressed region through several ventures. OWVI is committed to developing resources on the Navajo Nation into a returnable investment for operators and manufacturers across multiple sectors.
Ray’s company Crown Mutual Inc. worked with OWVI for months to establish a fintech solution for the underserved region and provide a banking and financial ecosystem for the people there to utilize.
Ray graciously invited me to meet the team in hopes I could partake when it came to the digital marketing resources I could potentially provide for the project. And there I was, travelling to the United States for a business trip to Las Vegas. That feels weird to think about and seems so foreign now that Canada’s border is closed to non-essential travel with the US.
During this first trip, I sat in as we met with some potential investors and reviewed the entire operation via a very comprehensive presentation. It was nothing less than impressive. They explained the partnerships with Native American Agricultural Company and how they retransformed the Cultivation Campus for economic prosperity and growth within the Navajo Nation San Juan River Farm area.
I found the One World Ventures group to be a competent team of professionals with a clear vision. Both the CEO and the company Director were knowledgeable about global business, and each had strong business acumen. Together with a very astute office manager, the team is quite competent and driven for success.
Ray introduced me as a digital marketer with experience marketing in the same space. This introduction stems from early the year before when I had recognized a niche for the same emerging industry. I created a compliance-based service model which adapted an approach to support companies breaking into the newly legalized Canadian market and transitioning into a sustainable long-term business.
So, there I was at the table, to listen and learn.
After returning from Nevada, I was motivated to be involved with OWVI, and I planned to follow up. When the opportunity came to go back to Vegas again in December for a huge conference, I was there in a flash.
It was one of the biggest conventions running, and it takes over Vegas with potheads from all over the planet. OWVI had planned a satellite event to draw possible investors away for the overcrowded trade show floors to an intimate gathering for more engaging dialogue. It was here; I would meet a few more colleagues from the OWVI circle.
The OWVI function was also my introduction to Mr. Marc Bergeron and his company BC Capital Corp. (BC Capital provides leasing and financing for all types of equipment acquisitions.) Marc and I hit it off right away and were laughing from the start. After our event had wrapped, we took off in an Uber with other new friends from our event to take on the after parties of the MJBIZ conference. Here we go!!
We managed to get into a few hi-end events, and the rest is a little fuzzy to be completely honest, but I can assure you we had fun.
One little antidote from the night wasn’t until the end of this memorable evening (in fact, in the hotel) that Marc and I discovered we were sharing the same suite in the hotel. It seems our mutual colleague Ray who generously provide the room, had not informed us! Mark and I were both quite glad we had met and got along so well before discovering we were sharing a goddamn hotel room!! It was hilarious to both of us, and we laughed long and hard…good one, Ray!
So, moving forward into the year 2020, we continued to build upon the common goal of supporting OWVI. I began heavily researching similar company profiles and familiarizing myself with the opportunity. I was genuinely inspired to help the company present as an authority in investors’ eyes and the rest of the world for that matter.
I put together a series of comprehensive outlines and began to create an overview and approach for the group to consider. Over the following days and weeks, Ray and I had discussions with OWVI about its trajectory. The consensus was, we wanted to adapt and visualize a more ambidextrous perception to marketing the opportunity. This decision became my focus leading into the new year, and I got to work.
Then a world pandemic hit, and we were dealing with the beginnings of COVID 19. Everything seemed to stop dead in tracks for a few weeks. All my projects ceased. I was working on a few different websites, and all of them had put the brakes on.
It was early April of 2020 in the first stages of the virus when everyone finally came up for air. At this time, I had decided to transition from working as a contractor with the agency to partnering officially with Ray and focusing on OWVI and other businesses on what would become Crown Mutual Group. We decided to move to a new office space. It was an 8′ x 12′ cube with a large whiteboard along the one wall and a floor to ceiling window that made our 11th floor view of the mountains pretty amazing. We used this literal think-tank room to fill the whiteboard daily with critical paths and connected the dots to maneuver our objectives forward.
It wasn’t long before we regrouped and began plotting our next move for One World Ventures. One of the first things that we addressed was the Navajo people were getting exponentially sicker in the early stage of the pandemic, and OWVI reached out to take action.
OWVI wanted to pull together an effort to raise money for the Navajo via a website to release an official position of support. Also, a place where those invested with us could rally behind in solidarity of the company. This effort would become the website www.helpournatives.com.
The outpouring of support for the Navajo people was felt and reverberated throughout America and beyond. It was covered by PBS News and did help raise awareness of how bad the region was and is still hit by COVID 19.
Upon regrouping on the OWVI business plan, we decided to take an objective step back and re-evaluate the company’s position with a traditional SWOT analysis. We created a simple diagram and began laying out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats as we saw them collectively. It was through this constructive dialogue that something very cool happened to our approach.
In the threat’s column, we had listed the current events of the COVID pandemic as a definite threat to our business model.
We took it initially as a detriment to the Navajo people and our efforts to advance the region’s social agenda. Not good!
However, we soon realized that our efforts to help the region were more relevant and timelier than we could have known. We just needed to recognize what was negative and try to turn it into a positive.
We needed to pivot.
A couple of different things happened at this critical stage, and momentum started to pick up. We decided at that moment, what was happening to the Navajo was an extension of our original trajectory. We had been, after all, introducing a variety of sectors into the area and now it was now clearly evident that one of those sectors needed to be Health and Wellness. This pivot now seemed obvious.
There is an overwhelming need for an immediate influx of health and wellness related resources for the region. There will be at least a semi-permanent need for PPE and other resources to combat COVID 19 in the coming months and years.
And that was it; there is was we just did a pivot.
It felt like the feeling of change was in the air!
Ray and I also saw a pivot from colleagues connected to the OWVI project, including Nanaimo based company Western Extracts registered LP with health Canada. (WE are invested into OWVI as a licensed operator on the Navajo Campus and in transition just before the pandemic.)
WE halted the process of transitioning operations to Nevada. Their team quickly saw an opportunity and used their manufacturing facility in Nanaimo to produce a line of antiseptic hand spray called WE CARE. A stroke of pure genius! And another excellent example of a necessary pivot.
In the OWVI Toronto office, our colleagues had also begun sourcing and providing channels for various types of PPE. There seems to be a PPE movement underway.
Soon after this, we met ‘Breathe Medical Manufacturing.’ Breath Medical had responded to the federal call for COVID 19 support earlier in the year with a solution to produce 46,000,000 masks. They won a multimillion-dollar government contract, and the race was on for them to follow through. The company needed quality PPE manufacturing machines and financial help, bringing them into the country. It would seem that producing PPE on such a large scale for the Canadian population was proving easier said than done, and they needed some support.
We immediately took action to assist BC Capital with servicing these clients and began positioning ourselves professionally. We soon established Crown Mutual Group as a Health Canada licensed provider of Class 1 Medical devices for use in hospitals for healthcare providers and essential workers. (Official # MDEL 13806 – Company ID 158484.) This licence was vital for us to begin the next phase of our efforts. In the weeks to follow, we carefully worked to secure specific resources among our allies connected to the Chinese market. We confirmed a direct line of certified PPE and imported a fine line of manufacturing equipment into Canada. It was game on!
Our initial plan was to use a compliance and certification model to become a resource for companies bottlenecked in getting certified products, including critical machinery into North America. In what amounted to an incredible stroke of luck, Ray’s had a close contact who works for the CSA’s Canadian office. We began to arrange for a compliance officer to help us establish the machines as CSA certified in China and good to go upon entry to Canada.
We’ve now sourced manufacturing machinery and have established a path to it being CSA certified upon arrival. Things were looking up! We then began sourcing various PPE types, and before long, we were receiving physical samples of face masks and face shields to our office. We established; CMG to import PPE at scale for the Canadian population. It meant further opportunity was certainly percolating.
Then the phone rang again. It was OWVI, informing us the US government announced support for the Navajo with a COVID relief fund upward to a billion dollars. Whoa, what a bombshell! It was now clear; a Health and Wellness plan would take precedent over everything else we could do. It would seem the need, willpower, and now the money could be in government subsidies to support acceptable initiatives, including ours.
As we soon understood, the funding proposed by the US government was an unprecedented commitment that could fund a variety of opportunities and initiatives. It was exciting because we are already waiting on a suitable third-party institution to support the investment into the prepaid card system Crown Mutual proposed. We reassessed our initial order of cards and adjusted the proposal for scale to speak to a broader scope of support. We did and sent over formal documents and presentation material, so OWVI could hopefully advance this agenda. It was go-time!
With a new sense of accomplishment and ambition, we also took to advancing the OWVI digital presence and re-examining the company’s profile as a whole. We began to apply our newly founded vision to a revamp of all the OWVI’s online properties. We tried to present the leading website with a more rounded appeal that included our pivot into Health and Wellness.
OWVI continues to work closely with the Navajo governments as they sort through the process. We are thrilled to support and to have our initiatives in the mix for consideration as a viable solution that we hope to see through to its fruition.
As we continued to work through sourcing PPE, dealings with our Chinese suppliers became more tangible. We’ve been learning continually and getting deeper into the finite details of PPE products and how and what we would like to handle. We’ve been memorizing terms like BFE and ASTM and referring to the Non-absorbent/water-resistant outer layer and Nano-zinc antibacterial inner layer. It’s been a lot in a short amount of time.
We could see a direct link to a continued flow of high quality and certified PPE products and equipment into Canada and the US via the Navajo and OWVI.
Western ExtractsWECARE has also proposed repurposing a footprint on the Navajo campus into a facility that produced the sanitizer products and other PPE.
One again, we are poised for action!
As COVID 19 continues to infect the entire community and forces a lockdown, it becomes difficult to do anything but watch in disbelief. It is only now that things seem to be showing some slowing down, but we also all know we are over a year away from any real vaccine solution.
In the days and weeks to come, we plan to keep building up momentum to position the company to support those who need it. We were able to secure meetings with specific advisors and people in the know with the procurement process to gain confidence in what we were embarking upon and its now, full steam ahead.
This September, Crown Mutual took on a bigger office space overlooking the Fraser to the South and Airport to the West. We anticipate the upswing in our capacity with PPE and the need for bodies in the room to help us manage it. We took our whiteboard with us, of course, and it’s full once again with our game plan to conquer the world!
As more and more samples of masks and shields arrive daily and with our first PPE machine in place and operating like a charm, we look toward advancing Crown Mutual exponentially over this year.
Mark called with another client in need of help to finance a PPE machine. This time it’s for a company starting to produce a line of children’s masks. They have set up operations in their revamped catering company warehouse. It’s complete with a state-of-the-art cleanroom (needed to create a sterile production environment) and PPE manufacturing and testing equipment pumping out disposable masks at volume. What’s impressive is the resilience of another company that did what they could to survive in this industry—a pivot.
We are now working to position a direct line to locally produced face masks for children. That reminds me I have to get back to my designs.
I hope this was insightful, anyone with a similar experience, please let me know!
Crown Mutual Group