Cosmetic Manufacturer Mary Kay Keeps Global Supply Chain, U.S., China Manufacturing Moving During Pandemic

Gloria Salinas, Managing Director, Economic Development

While global supply chains were falling apart and China went into lockdown, Addison-based Mary Kay, Inc. was able to adapt its manufacturing and supply chain facilities to keep operations safely running in more than 30 countries.

As the coronavirus outbreak escalated and shut down China and Mary Kay’s four manufacturing sites there, Chief Manufacturing Officer Chaun Harper said the global cosmetic manufacturer was able to learn from and realign operations at its new, U.S-based state-of-the-art global manufacturing and research and development facility in Lewisville.

“We were up-and-running back in our four sites [in China] within about 45 days, and we really didn’t have much of an outage in material,” Harper said Thursday, June 4 at a virtual Responsible Return to Work discussion hosted by the Dallas Regional Chamber and sponsored by RealCom Solutions.

Harper, who is a member of the company’s Executive Committee and oversees global manufacturing, global supply planning and inventory control, and global quality and transportation functions for Mary Kay, said the business is performing well and there have been no positive COVID-19 tests at its Lewisville facility since three cases in March.

Here’s how the company’s proactive operations were able to contain the outbreak:

Reduce Employee Impact and Work from Home When Possible

“We just opened this new [Lewisville] facility, and it’s our new state-of the art supply chain center housing R-and-D functions, manufacturing, and all of the supply chain that would support everything expect for Asia-Pacific,” Harper said.

With about 650 employees at the Lewisville facility, Mary Kay immediately activated a work-from-home strategy for most employees working in supply chain center to reduce contact and prevent a possible outbreak.

“We were able to get everyone moved out except the last 150 essential employees needed to keep essential business operations running,” Harper said.

Adjust the Workplace to CDC Recommendations

Mary Kay quickly implemented CDC guidelines for personal protective equipment, social distancing, and cleaning practices at the facility.

Machines were slowed and cleaned every 30 minutes, plexiglass went put up between employees, and floors were painted to show proper social distance.

Essential employee policy required a parking lot temperature check, gloves, mask, and smock to enter the facility. And life inside the facility changed, too. The fitness center closed, but meals were catered in a socially distant breakroom, so employees didn’t have to leave for food.

With the benefit of being a cosmetic manufacturer, Mary Kay began making its own isopropyl alcohol and hand sanitizer for employees.

“What we’ve seen is this has become more normal in [employee] mindset and accepted, a routine,” Harper said. “We saw a shift in a little bit of light fear to people feeling OK about the whole situation and feeling comfortable at work.”

Establish Trust, Communicate, Test, and Trace

Harper said Mary Kay’s first line of business was establishing trust, educating employees about protocols, being open to suggestions, and communicating the importance of their safety and well-being during operations.

The company started a COVID-19 Hotline for Mary Kay employees to call in for a risk assessment if they were feeling ill, had come in contact with someone who tested positive, or had symptoms. After a risk assessment, the company provided a free COVID test and paid employees to stay home for 14 days. Mary Kay started a partnership with a group of doctors who would come on site to test employees and have results back within three days.

“We’ve had three people that tested positive, and all three contracted [the virus] from their spouse,” Harper said. “We went through contract tracing with the employees they were in contact with, and we sent them home for 14 days paid and provided a free COVID test.”

Harper said the campus was immediately notified to get in front of the communication and maintain an open and honest protocol.

“We haven’t had any other positive tests to come up since [March],” Harper said. “It seems like the things we are doing are working.”

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