COVID-19: How some Tennessee businesses are shifting focus

Kenneth Burks, Chief Operating Officer of Sole Supports, Inc, of Hickman County in West Tennessee, replied to a comment I made on Facebook underneath a live press conference by Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee. We got into a conversation about how his company was a factory that could turn-on-a-dime to start making PPE (personal protective equipment) for area hospitals.

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I knew a guy named Steve Paladino, president of Music City Fire, who was doing a similar thing with his business because of his contacts in China. I connected the two of them to brainstorm ideas, and even though they are not working together today on a project, their respective stories of how they are trying to save their businesses and the livelihoods of their employees are stories to be told.

Screenshot from Facebook Messenger.

A podcast of interviews about COVID-19 was born

When the coronavirus crisis began, I took a special interest in how the statistics were forming up day-over-day in the United States. I have been writing news articles for News Landed and presenting data to school and business groups about how to read the numbers, what flattening the curve means, and where to find data to rely upon. For the last few weeks, I have been interviewing people from all over the world to hear how they are responding to the pandemic. My new podcast is called Shout Your Cause, and the episode series is entitled, COVID-19: The World Responds.

A factory in West Tennessee is ready to respond

This episode digs into how Kenneth Burks is responding to the crisis. Fellow Tennesseans may remember Ken’s cousin, Senator Tommy Burks, who was murdered by his political opponent, Byron (Low Tax) Looper, in 1998. “With a BS in politics and business and a Masters in curriculum and instruction, most of Kenneth Burks’ career was spent working as an educator of emotionally and behaviorally disturbed teens in private residential treatment settings,” according to Shout Your Cause. You can hear the angst in Ken’s voice over wanting to help his company stay afloat.

Read Also: Ultraviolet light found effective against SARS-CoV-2 on all surfaces

A company in Middle Tennessee shifts to make hand-sanitizer

After many frustrating obstacles to procure PPE from China, Steve Paladino pivoted his business, Music City Fire of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, into branding, manufacturing, and selling hand-sanitizer. He has already procured deals with big-box retailers to sell this product. Listen to Steve’s story of jumping through hoops with the FDA and having sly competition undermine his efforts to purchase N95 face masks.

Product mock-up image from Steve Paladino.

Stay tuned as more podcast episodes are released of interviews with the likes of nurses, doctors, business owners, a college chancellor, counselor, students, and many more.

Listen to the “Shout Your Cause” podcast

You can listen to Shout Your Cause on Spotify or on Apple Podcasts.

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