In mid-March, San Bernardo Ice Cream president Jonathan Tammara scoured South Florida and the internet to find some basic PPE for his family and his employees.
Tammara’s search led him to a local purveyor who sold him three gallons of hand sanitizer for $250. It was his best option.
That was the moment when Tammara decided enough was enough.
His Miramar-based ice cream company — a multigenerational operation that employs nearly 20 locals and distributes to major casinos, cruise lines, and venues around the world — had been hit hard.
He wanted to pivot to help businesses that, like his, were struggling to find the required PPE to comply with coronavirus-era regulations.
“We are the poster child of being the COVID-19 punching bag,” Tammara tells New Times. “We woke up one morning and so much of our business was gone. But for PPE, I was like, ‘This cannot be this difficult or expensive.’ My stubbornness in trying to find affordable PPE has led us to where we are today.”
Tammara's new business model has him and his team loading up on PPE supplies in bulk and reselling them at fair prices. He says his newly launched venture, New Day Care Products, has already sold hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of PPE to businesses near and far.
New Day is selling 50-packs of three-ply masks ($34.50), 250-packs of nitrile gloves ($37.50), and sanitizer by the gallon ($39.99). The company also offers “starter” and “office” kits ($159 and up) that include an assortment of PPE including infrared thermometers and KN95 masks.
Tammara says he's working with NASA and other government agencies but is quick to add that he's most proud of being able to help smaller businesses.
“Going into this, how many people were contacting the sanitation department in Carol City or the repair shop down the street in Miramar to make sure they have what they need?” he says. “When we got into this, we wanted to reach the people who needed us. And, we’re doing just that.”
It appears this new aspect of Tammara’s business isn’t going anywhere. He's considering expanding into COVID-related training programs, antibody-test cataloging technology, and perhaps other unique safety products.
“There are going to be real, longtime adjustments that stem from this. Some we may understand today, some we don’t see coming,” he says. “We want to position ourselves as a company that will be there to help with the pain points.”
Tammara credits his staff for making the transition, describing his employees as “aces.” He says he hasn’t had to furlough a single employee. And, yes, they're still selling ice cream, including a newly launched oat-based option called No Bull. The new dairy-free line is now available by the pint at Whole Foods stores.
“This should have been the most exciting and exhilarating time, with the birth of a new brand being sold at a major retailer in our backyard,” he says.
“But here we are. And we’re moving forward.”