Innovation at Work: Businesses Pivoting During COVID-19

On this episode of StartupNation Radio, Jeff is joined by frequent co-host, Norm Pappas, president and CEO of Pappas Financial. Together, they talk with three entrepreneurs who have pivoted their business model in order to help their communities and employees during COVID-19.


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First up, they chat with Pepi Avizonis, co-founder of Dirty Water Distillery, a microdistillery located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Moving his product from “non-essential” to “essential,” he’s converted his distillery into a factory that produces hand sanitizer.

During the show, Avizonis discusses:

  • How Dirty Water Distillery is bridging the gap of the demand for hand sanitizer production
  • Where they are distributing their hand sanitizer
  • Local breweries that are pitching in by way of donating their beer, which is distilled into alcohol, and then used to make the hand sanitizer
  • Additional supplies and ingredients for hand sanitizer production that are in demand and hard to find

For more on Dirty Water Distillery, visit the official website and stay up-to-date via Facebook.



Next up, Jeff and Norm talk to Gina Thorsen, president of Stormy Kromer, a division of Jacquart Fabric Products.

Stormy Kromer, located in Ironwood, Michigan, is known for producing its signature hand-sewn winter wool hats. However, in a pivot to assist the community and retain its employees, Stormy Kromer is now producing facial masks for area hospitals and medical clinics.

The third generation of her family business, Thorsen shares the following: 

  • How quickly Stormy Kromer ramped up and retooled production
  • What products the company is making and for whom
  • Employee pride in making these products
  • The company’s production capacity

Learn more about Stormy Kromer here and on Facebook.


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Finally, Jeff and Norm talk with Paul Glantz, chairman of Emagine Entertainment. During the show, Paul shares what he’s doing to maintain his business during hard times.

During this segment, Glantz talks about: 

  • The positive feedback Emagine is receiving from guests on social media
  • What Emagine is doing to support its employees
  • His predictions and preparations for re-opening
  • How COVID-19 could impact the future of Emagine
  • Emagine’s efforts to support local businesses

For more on Emagine Entertainment, visit the official website.

We’ll be back next Saturday with an all-new edition of StartupNation Radio! In addition to weekly StartupNation Radio programming, tune in to News/Talk 760 AM WJR weekday mornings at 7:11 a.m. for the WJR Business Beat. Listeners outside of the Detroit area can listen live HERE.

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