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Swine Flu is Good For Business

Posted by: Colleen DeBaise on April 30, 2009

Now, we’re not saying any entrepreneur would keep their fingers crossed for a worldwide epidemic of swine flu, but if you happen to be in the business of making hand sanitizer - how cool would that be?

Francine Glick, who runs a small company called Hands2Go in Livingston, N.J., that makes an alcohol-free antibacterial hand cleanser, is in just that position.

She tells me that Monday was just an ordinary day - in fact, she attended a day-long event for Make Mine A Million - but by Tuesday, as news spread of the panic-inducing pandemic, “the phone would not stop ringing. I would put it down and it would ring again.” Orders have come in from Babies-R-Us, Toys-R-Us, Duane Reade and Bed Bath & Beyond (all of whom were existing clients) and now Glick has called in favors with vendors to get products manufactured — and shipped to stores — as fast as possible.

“This is definitely going to take our company to a new level,” says Glick, who just days ago had been hoping to reach $1 million in revenue by year’s end, but now anticipates it. “This is giving a lot of people an opportunity to try our product. It’s a bad situation, but it’s good that they get to try (Hands2Go).”

Business is business, and for Glick - or anyone who makes soap, sanitizer or other antibacterial products - well, it’s time to get hawking. Here’s a story and our own Burt Helm’s blog post on companies doing just that. When even the President is wearing a face mask and imploring citizens to wash hands, it’s a good time to be in hygiene.

Reader Comments

The Mad Hedge Fund Trader, San Francisco, CA

May 1, 2009 02:12 PM

Not for travel stocks. A few bad tacos in Mexico, and all of a sudden the world has gone apoplectic about another Spanish flu epidemic, when 5% of the global population died, or 50 million. The State Department banned non essential travel to Mexico, cratering that economy, while the EC recommended against travel to the US. With visions of SARS in their minds, which sent markets in Asia tumbling a few years ago, traders sold off the Mexican Bolsa by 4% and the Hang Seng by 2.7%, American Airlines (AA) 10%, Carnival (CCL) 10%, and Royal Caribbean (RCL) 15%. The Mexican peso got slammed in the FX markets, and commodities tanked across the board. Tamiflu makers Gilead Sciences (GILD) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), as well as drugstores like Rite Aid (RAD) got a nice bump. Epidemiologists say the world is long overdue for a reoccurrence of a severe pandemic, with the explosion of international trade and an exponential growth in populations. But it is highly unlikely this is the Big One. Mexico’s public health infrastructure is primitive at best, and there is no biological evidence that this is anything remotely like the H5 N1 virus that caused the 1918 epidemic. With 25 million living in Mexico City in close quarters on a former swamp and a dubious water supply, this could be anything, even just the tail end of last year’s flu season. Almost all of these viruses originate in China, where they make the leap from pigs to humans, and then globally. But, still, try and buy a face mask at Longs Drug Store today.

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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