STORIES

School Districts, Institutions Look to Co-ops like Choice Partners for COVID-19 Solutions

As the manufacturer of hand sanitizer and distributor of industrial disinfectants, Choice Partners vendor Buckeye Cleaning is operating on a 24/7 schedule. During the past six weeks, the company sold 20,000 cases of hand sanitizer, 8,000 dispensers on stands and is currently manufacturing 10,000 cases for the Houston market. President Reagan Lapoint of Buckeye International in Houston has this piece of advice for institutions looking for disinfectants and cleaning supplies: “Use your co-op.” “Hand sanitizer will be in every building you go into from here on out,” said Lapoint. “The co-op has guaranteed pricing. You lock the pricing in, and we must honor that pricing. The co-op is made for times like this.” Choice Partners Director Jeff Drury says Buckeye has been a vendor with Choice for 18 years. Both small and large school districts and institutions benefit from buying through Choice’s legal procurement and contract solutions to meet government purchasing requirements for its approximate 2,000 members. The 624 vendors benefit too from a loyal client base. About 72 percent of Buckeye’s business comes from Choice member orders, and COVID-19 has escalated demand for the company’s three-tiered approach for industrial cleaning.

Drury and Lapoint

Since mid-March, the 16-member team at Choice has operated in high gear, organizing a list of vendors who provide COVID-19 products and services to members. A marketing survey was sent to vendors with approximately 80 responses for available products/services from cleaning supplies to food to technology to facilities: https://www.choicepartners.org/covid-19 . Like many companies, Choice Partners has moved from face-to-face customer service through avenues like conferences, trade shows, trainings and person-to-person sales calls to Microsoft Teams meetings, Zoom trainings and phone calls. “We are so people oriented and there is nothing like face-to-face interactions, but we have adapted with technology,” Drury said. A “Virtual Vendor Orientation” is scheduled for May 12 and targets Choice Partners’ new vendors and provides updates for current vendors. Topics and issues range from the legal and competitive aspect of Choice Partners cooperative contracts to supply catalog vendors to job-order contracting.
“We want to make sure our new vendors gain clarity and understanding in an orientation and understand what we have to offer, from marketing to excellent customer service,” Drury said.
Although many food contractors and office vendor companies are suffering through the loss of school district demands during COVID-19, Drury points to companies like Buckeye which are meeting new supply-and-demands of institutions during the pandemic. “We are continuing to see interest in products and services from the co-op,” Drury said. “Both companies and institutions are tasked with reducing the spread of COVID through taking on the responsibility of social distancing and bringing many innovative ideas to the table.” Learn more about Choice Partners at http://www.choicepartners.org. Source: HCDE