Even if a distributor has the purest intentions when formulating a plan for a facility, its effectiveness hinges entirely on the accuracy of the protocol or products in question. It’s an approach Carrizales takes to heart, and one that has engulfed the majority of his time.

“Since the pandemic hit, a primary role of mine is to vet every chemical that comes through the purchasing department to see if it's liable, or if it’s more hype than substance,” says Carrizales. “We’ve also noticed that consumers have become more educated. They’ll ask if products are on the EPA List N, for example. More than ever, we need to have answers.”

At the moment, Acme reviews between 200 and 400 new proposed products each month. Unsurprisingly, many chemicals that appear to be worthy alternatives in the face of a supply shortage are actually cutting corners on important requirements for effectiveness and safety. This requires Carrizales to be methodical when vetting new solutions.

“The first question we ask each prospective manufacturer is ‘What is your EPA registration number?’ If they don’t have one, I don’t even consider it,” says Carrizales. “From there, I vet it on the List N and look at dwell times. We have proposals that we could check back on if they don’t meet the criteria now but could in the future. We try not to completely shut the door on anything.”

Once products are properly vetted, Acme’s marketing department compiles PDFs, email blasts and company announcements highlighting the certifications, strengths, and best fits for newly introduced products.

“We’ll categorize the different releases for targeted audiences, such as ‘back to school’ or ‘dining in.’ Coinciding these with our rebranding announcement has generated fantastic engagement with existing clients and serves as a great vehicle for bringing in new ones,” says Carrizales.

Other successful efforts made amid the pandemic have come from the ability to anticipate product shortages early on. Between securing early orders and the purchasing department actively seeking alternative solutions, Carrizales says Acme is now one of the few distributors in the mid-Atlantic without glove or hand sanitizer shortages.

Avoiding shortages satisfies current customers, but it also opened the door for referrals from clients.

“Beyond common shortages, our Restaurant Equipment division also ordered large amounts of under-the-radar products like outdoor space heaters, for example,” says Attman. “Clients weren’t necessarily thinking of them, but we knew they’ll be in demand for foodservice, so we planned ahead.”

In addition to products, Acme has continued to outline procedures that help verify the effectiveness of cleaning. In particular, the company is a big advocate of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) testing. The process not only shows that Acme has a vested interest in a client’s results, but also proves the effectiveness of proposed products and cleaning methods.

“You need to verify things,” says Attman. “With ATP testing, you swab an area, insert it into the Luminometer and in 10 seconds you can see how clean the surface really is. You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you started. If you’re not taking steps to verify the results of your current level of cleaning, how are you going to improve?”

Although Acme is still in the early stages of the post-rebrand journey, Attman believes the Hygiene and Facilities Solutions division will have a lasting presence as customers increasingly value safety over price. Even after the pandemic subsides and there’s some relative return to normalcy, the increased awareness toward infection control and hygiene is here to stay.

“Because of everything we’ve all gone through during this pandemic, the rebranding of our message to Hygiene and Facilities Solutions is more appropriate than ever,” says Attman. “We always want to stay in-tune with the needs of our clients in ways that separate us from our competition.”

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Acme Rebrand Highlights Solutions-First Approach