Toilet paper’s become a precious commodity in the coronavirus era, but one Philadelphia company has stepped into the potentially messy breach.
Bud Newman, the past board chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, is the president and CEO of Newman & Co., a fourth-generation family-owned paperboard manufacturer based in Philadelphia. And because he has connections to toilet paper producers and suppliers, he recently put those ties to good use, securing 65,000 rolls for several area Jewish
“It was natural for me to talk to people and see if they could get some toilet tissue from some of their suppliers,” Newman said. “We try to do things by example.”
About a month ago, Newman reached out to Steve Rosenberg, chief operating officer of the Jewish Federation, about the toilet paper and a plan was hatched.
Two weeks later, a shipment arrived from Florida and was dropped off at a storage facility. The next step called for delivering the rolls to the nonprofits.
BR Moving heard about the donation and offered to help with distribution.
“We were happy to do it,” said John Moulder, the operations and sales manager at BR Moving. “You would never believe that people’s access to toilet paper, how anxiety-relieving that could be for some people to know that they are actually going to have the paper products that they need day to day, that they never thought they would go without. It’s a real surreal time.”
BR Moving loaned one of its trucks and drivers to deliver about 20 pallets to organizations, including KleinLife and Federation Housing. And the timing couldn’t have been better.
Subodha Kumar, a professor of marketing and supply chain management at Temple University, said households are predicted to use around 40% more toilet paper during the pandemic. As for the shortage, he added that it will take three to four weeks for the market to respond to the change in demand. Suppliers are trying to ramp up production to meet the need without over-producing.
“Will it be enough to meet everybody’s demand — that is not very clear,” Kumar said. “It may be that there is not enough, or it is also possible that we have even more than what people are asking (for) at that time.”
As the market takes time to even out, Newman’s donation is sure to be put to good use. Rosenberg said Newman is “always at the forefront of trying to figure out what is needed for the community.” He’s even moved on to securing his next donation: face masks.
“He’s an incredible guy,” Rosenberg said. “Who thinks about buying 70,000 rolls of toilet paper to give away to the community?”