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  • July 31, 2020 4:30 PM | Joyce La Padula (Administrator)

    Phil Tulkoff’s family has owned a Baltimore condiment company for more than 90 years, and he’s uneasy. Not because business at Tulkoff Food Products is bad — he lived through that this spring — but because it is suddenly good.

    “I don’t know what to expect,” said Mr. Tulkoff, the company’s president, who employs about 100 workers. “I watch the news and think it has to go down again.”

    After a slump in April and May prompted a shutdown of three of four production lines at his factory near the Port of Baltimore, demand roared back in June as restaurants and retailers hungered for products like minced garlic, horseradish and cocktail sauce, which are among Tulkoff Food’s most popular offerings.

    Mr. Tulkoff is grateful for the rebound, but his apprehension is shared by thousands of other business owners: While sales have returned to healthy levels, the surge in coronavirus cases in many parts of the country threatens the comeback.

    Indeed, the economy’s uncertain trajectory is reflected in recent employment data. On the one hand, the Labor Department reported that payrolls grew by 4.8 million in June, including a gain of more than two million in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector, which includes bars and restaurants.

    Yet on Thursday, the government reported that new claims for state unemployment insurance topped one million for the 17th week in a row.

    So even as millions go back to work, millions of others are newly unemployed, threatening both their personal finances — particularly with a $600 weekly federal supplement to unemployment insurance about to expire — and their ability to help drive the economy’s recovery.

    The situation at Tulkoff Food Products is especially perilous because half of the company’s orders come from restaurants and bars, a sector that collapsed in March as the coronavirus pandemic spread and stay-at-home orders went into effect.

    After a gradual reopening, indoor dining in many parts of California, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, was newly banned this month. In Texas and Florida, bars have been shuttered after initially reopening and attracting hordes of quarantine-weary patrons. Mr. Tulkoff hasn’t seen any impact from these moves, but he knows from the wave of shutdowns in March how rapidly things can change.

    “The downturn came on so quickly, it was like someone pulling the plug from a bathtub,” he said. Orders were canceled so fast that cases of sauce already on their way to customers had to be shipped back to the factory. Some went into inventory while others went to local food banks or were discarded.

    Rather than lay workers off, Mr. Tulkoff took advantage of a Maryland program that allowed him to cut employee schedules to four days a week, with the state picking up the cost of the fifth day. He also received a loan of just over $1 million from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

    “We definitely had more people than we needed, but we didn’t want to let anyone go,” Mr. Tulkoff said. Working in staggered groups, production employees spent time on the one line that was still in operation during the trough.

    The paycheck protection loan was a welcome cushion, but Mr. Tulkoff intends to return the money because the rebound has made it unnecessary. The company took other steps to survive the lean period: Matching payments on the employees’ 401(k) plans were halted, Mr. Tulkoff took a 20 percent pay cut, overtime was stopped, and temporary positions were eliminated.

    Mr. Tulkoff shut the company’s California plant in May, eliminating 34 jobs, in a move that had been planned for a while but was sped up because of the coronavirus outbreak. Much of that output will be taken over by a new plant that is getting up to speed in Cincinnati. It will eventually employ as many as 70 workers.

    At the main factory in Baltimore, roughly 60 hourly employees are working 40 hours per week, plus overtime. The company is looking to fill five more slots, which start at $12 per hour.

    “It’s been a roller coaster,” said Buddy Dietz, the chief operating officer. “It’s hard for us to tell whether it’s for real or not.”

    “What we believe has happened is that customers depleted their inventories,” he added. “Now they’re trying to refill the pipeline. We’re anticipating that orders will fall off again, but there’s no way for us to know.”

    If things turn down again, the company plans to repeat the cost-saving measures imposed last time, like the elimination of the 401(k) match and overtime. Another option would be to slow spending on the Cincinnati factory, Mr. Tulkoff said.

    To be sure, Tulkoff Food Products has survived other challenges, including the Great Depression and World War II. The company was founded by Mr. Tulkoff’s grandparents Harry and Lena, immigrants from Russia whose freshly ground horseradish was a hit at the grocery store they operated.

    “It’s pretty amazing, but after all these years we’ve stuck to our roots — horseradish, garlic, and cocktail sauce,” Mr. Tulkoff said.

    An engineer by training, Mr. Tulkoff, 59, grew up in Baltimore and graduated from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, but didn’t join the family firm initially, instead working on the space shuttle program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

    “I spent 11 years in aerospace engineering,” he said. “Then I ran a software business. But when this opportunity came along, I wanted to take on that kind of challenge.”

    He has two children in their 20s; one is a nurse practitioner in Washington, D.C., the other an industrial designer in Kansas City, Kan. Neither has shown an interest in running the business, but another fourth-generation family member, Jordan Gershberg, is at the company, working on getting the Cincinnati plant up and running.

    As chief executive for the last 15 years, Mr. Tulkoff expanded the firm’s co-manufacturing business, in which it makes sauces and condiments for other brands and packages them for sale in retail outlets under those brands’ names.

    While many consumers may have eaten products made by Tulkoff Foods, they wouldn’t recognize the name unless they lived in Baltimore, where Tulkoff-branded horseradish can be found at supermarkets. Restaurants are supplied through food service distributors like Sysco and U.S. Food.

    “Food service in restaurants was very weak, but co-manufacturing held up OK,” said Ben Sipola, Tulkoff Foods’ chief financial officer. “Those customers that weren’t in restaurants were buying more food in grocery stores.” Co-manufacturing accounts for half of the company’s sales.

    Mr. Tulkoff has run the company conservatively, averse to debt or risky new product lines. When the pandemic hit, the company had enough cash to last a year, and with losses running at $250,000 a month, the Paycheck Protection Program loan bought it four months, if it needed to use the money.

    For now, the company is solidly profitable, Mr. Tulkoff said, and workers in the factory like Maria Bunce say they are more focused on fulfilling the daily quotas than worrying about what they can’t control in the future.

    “I’m in the moment,” said Ms. Bunce, a floor supervisor. “We’re so busy we don’t have time to think about what’s going on.”

    Mr. Tulkoff, on the other hand, finds himself worrying about what the resurgence of the virus could mean for his company and its employees. “It keeps me up at night,” he said. “It’s my biggest nightmare to see all that equipment idle again.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/16/business/economy/company-reopening-coronavirus.html?auth=link-dismiss-google1tap

  • July 31, 2020 4:27 PM | Joyce La Padula (Administrator)
    • Emergent will provide contract development and manufacturing services beginning in 2020 to produce drug substance at large scale for commercial supply
    • Agreement is valued at approximately $174 million through 2021 and brings the total AstraZeneca commitment to $261 million
    • Parties may enter into additional commercial manufacturing commitments as the candidate progresses over three years through Emergent’s flexible capacity deployment model

    GAITHERSBURG, Md., July 27, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (NYSE:EBS) today announced that it has signed an agreement to provide contract development and manufacturing (CDMO) services for large-scale commercial drug substance manufacturing for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222. The agreement is valued at approximately $174 million through 2021 and follows an $87 million contract in June for development services, performance and process qualification, raw materials and an initial capacity reservation.

    “Emergent is driven by our desire to advance solutions that will make an impact on this pandemic,” said Robert G. Kramer Sr., president and chief executive officer of Emergent BioSolutions. “Sharing a passion for science, we are encouraged by AstraZeneca’s investigational COVID-19 vaccine and look forward to supporting its continued progress.”

    The adenovirus vector-based vaccine candidate, AZD1222, was co-invented by the University of Oxford and its spin-out company, Vaccitech, and licensed by AstraZeneca. The vaccine candidate is currently in clinical trials. It is one of the candidates funded and supported by Operation Warp Speed (OWS), the U.S. government’s program to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 medical countermeasures that aims to have substantial quantities of a safe and effective vaccine available.

    Syed T. Husain, senior vice president and CDMO business unit head at Emergent, stated, “As COVID-19 vaccine candidates progress through the pipeline, Emergent stands ready alongside leading innovators to rapidly deploy our CDMO services to help meet the substantial demand for a vaccine – anchored on our foundational expertise in development and manufacturing and propelled by our commitment to our mission – to protect and enhance life.”

    This agreement follows and is in addition to the landmark public-private CDMO partnership between Emergent and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) announced in June to pave the way for OWS high-priority innovators.

    Activities under this agreement will be performed at Emergent’s Baltimore Bayview facility, where certain manufacturing capacity reserved by BARDA through the CDMO task order issued to Emergent under OWS will be used. Emergent’s Baltimore Bayview facility is a designated Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) designed for rapid manufacturing of large quantities of vaccines and treatments during public health emergencies.

    The CIADM has unique capabilities across four independent suites to produce at clinical scale to get candidates rapidly into the clinic, while at the same time scaling up to enable large-scale manufacturing to up to 4000L to prepare for production of commercial volumes to meet customer demand. The CIADM has the capacity to produce tens to hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine on an annual basis, based upon the platform technology being used.

    Financial Considerations

    The company will provide an update to its 2020 financial outlook incorporating expectations related to this agreement and any other relevant information when it reports its second quarter financial results on July 30, 2020.

    https://investors.emergentbiosolutions.com/news-releases/news-release-details/emergent-biosolutions-signs-agreement-astrazeneca-expand

  • July 31, 2020 4:21 PM | Joyce La Padula (Administrator)

    Thomas Dahbura and Kelly M. Schulz watched a batch of window clings roll off a Hub City Labels press Tuesday afternoon.

    Dahbura is president of Hub Labels on Shawley Drive outside of Hagerstown. He spent some time Tuesday explaining how his company made those labels.

    Schulz is secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce and a partner in the label-making. She was there to say thanks.

    The window clings feature the state flag and the words "Proud to be Safely Open. Maryland Open for Business." They are part of the effort to help Maryland's economy safely recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Another part of that effort includes a "Maryland Strong: Back to Business Pledge" that businesses can take, promising they will follow safety protocols to help fight the pandemic. Those protocols include promoting social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting and providing flexibility for employees, among other steps.

    In an interview at Hub Labels on Tuesday, Schulz said advisory groups have helped set best practices for businesses in different sectors, such as office work and manufacturing.

    "We needed the employees to be safe," she said. "We needed the general public to be safe."

    She also said employees need to feel safe in returning to their workplaces. And members of the public need to feel safe when they go to stores and other businesses.

    "These window clings, along with the business pledge, offer much needed assurance in knowing that a business is taking the steps to adhere to health protocols and offer a safe environment for customers," Schulz said in a prepared statement.

    She said the Department of Commerce is spreading the word through other means as well, such as public service announcements that promote safe practices to fight COVID-19.

    According to Hub Labels, the company partnered with the Department of Commerce to make 10,000 of the window clings. The clings do not need adhesive to stay on the glass.

    The clings will be distributed to each of the state’s 23 counties and the city of Baltimore.

    In an interview, Dahbura called it a "sign of confidence" for consumers.

    “Times are uncertain right now, for so many reasons, COVID-19 just being one of the factors. I want to make a difference, however big or small, to help our communities find a path forward to recovery," he said in a prepared statement.

    Hub Labels makes pressure-sensitive and linerless labels for a variety of customers, including food and beverage businesses.

    https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/special/coronavirus/hub-labels-helps-spread-safely-open-message/article_5c78f3d7-fac5-5ce9-8efa-517a8430a466.html?fbclid=IwAR0Bim1chLjJFSuuJkqMMU8yKlqx22umDEqQf4GN7cx_r9ABlJ5jOWEOi1I

  • April 16, 2020 4:01 PM | Joyce La Padula (Administrator)

    MWCC Board Member Carl Livesay's interview with WJZTV:

    When a southwest Baltimore company became aware that some healthcare workers did not have enough equipment to stay safe, they decided to switch over their manufacturing plant to produce what they could.

    Click here for story.

  • March 27, 2020 2:18 PM | Joyce La Padula (Administrator)

    TIP: If you’re on the fence about whether to obtain an EIDL during these uncertain times, the time to apply is now. There is no obligation for a business to take the loan if one is offered, but starting the application process will secure your place in the queue.

    How to Apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

    MARCH 27, 2020 SC&H GROUP

    Updated on 3/27/2020 at 8:40am EST

    In light of the economic turmoil brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic, the U.S. Small Business Administration has been thrust into the national spotlight to provide assistance to thousands of small businesses looking to apply for disaster assistance loans for Coronavirus-related economic disruptions.

    The SBA is providing low-interest working capital loans of up to $2 million to almost all U.S. small businesses (must have fewer than 500 employees) and private non-profit organizations to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other expenses. These loans carry an interest rate of 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits — the loan repayment terms vary by applicant, up to a maximum of 30 years. There are a few exceptions:

    • Agricultural Enterprises
    • Religious Organizations
    • Charitable Organizations
    • Gambling Concerns
    • Casinos and Racetracks

    Additionally, due to increased volume the time to receive funds may take longer than normal and there are no fees to apply. Applicants are permitted to have an existing EIDL and still qualify for this disaster relief, but the loans cannot be consolidated (ie. If a Howard County small business has an EIDL due to the flooding, they are still eligible to obtain another EIDL for the COVID-19 disaster.) In the event their request is denied, the applicant will be given up to six months to provide new information and submit a written request for consideration.

  • March 24, 2020 4:20 PM | Mike Brenner (Administrator)

    We wanted to share this post and video from one of our consultant partners Kelly Petrock, Lead Institute (LinkedIn Profile).

    In today’s business as Unusual world, many of us will be forced from our professional and personal habits and comfort. Drawing upon and strengthening your Emotional Intelligence will be paramount. Use this short video to anticipate and navigate common emotional triggers.


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