Brink’s Adds Masks and Gloves to Protection Plans
Firearms, bulletproof vests and armored trucks are typical purchases for Ron Domanico. Yet in recent weeks, the finance chief of The
has dispatched a team to find face masks and other personal protective equipment for his 64,600 employees around the world because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Richmond, Va.-based company moves money for financial institutions, retailers and other businesses. Many of its employees—11,600 in the U.S.—drive around in heavy armored trucks refilling automated teller machines and collecting payments and valuables. The company in March reassigned its sourcing team, including eight employees who work for Mr. Domanico, to buying PPE, the bulk of it from China.
“At Brink’s, I have always had responsibility for strategic sourcing,” said Mr. Domanico, who became CFO in 2016. “But it’s never been gloves and masks before.”
Finding suppliers was one challenge for Brink’s. Getting its orders fulfilled was another. And instead of following the standard procedure of sourcing strategic supplies for just a few countries at a time, Brink’s sought to purchase equipment for workers across the 47 countries it operates in.
“Strategic [for Brink’s] has been bullets and armor,” said Edmond DeForest, a vice president at Moody’s Investors Service. “Now, you may need a mask too, in order to do the job to transport cash safely,” he said.
Brink’s prepaid its manufacturers and didn’t haggle much about the price. In some instances, the company agreed to pay a premium, Mr. Domanico said.
“We usually don’t do that,” he said. Brink’s has allocated around $6 million for PPE purchases and spent less than half of that amount so far.
“At the beginning, our colleagues wore a mask a day,” he said. “Now, people can change their mask more frequently than once a day.” In some countries, Brink’s has resorted to providing reusable masks, he said.
Once the company secured the protective gear, distributing to its various locations became a challenge. For example, PPE imports can be seized by U.S. customs authorities and diverted, Mr. Domanico said, even though the company’s work is considered essential. Still, Brink’s had to make careful usage estimates because it wouldn’t move goods intended for Canada or Mexico through the U.S.
“I only imported into the U.S. what I needed,” he said. “I was afraid that if we brought in everything we needed in North America, that it would be confiscated.”
So far, none of Brink’s PPE supplies have been confiscated, Mr. Domanico said. However, the company experienced delays in securing export licenses in China and had its PPE products held up in several other countries. Mr. Domanico said the company’s current supply of PPE is sufficient.
Brink’s employees in “many countries” contracted Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Mr. Domanico said. While most of these workers recovered, four employees in Brazil have died, according to Mr. Domanico. Around 1% of employees who have tested positive are still in hospital, he said.
Like other companies, Brink’s business has been hit by efforts to curb the spread of the virus. The shutdown of retail chains, restaurants and other businesses has reduced the need for cash collection and deliveries. Mr. Domanico therefore won’t be paying out as much on capital expenditures, which includes armored trucks. Cash capex is set to drop to $80 million to $85 million this year, down from $165 million that was initially allocated, he said.
“The role of the CFO is to be incredibly creative at this time as the pandemic moves with different speeds,” said Jeff Kessler, a managing director at Imperial Capital LLC, a financial services firm.
Write to Nina Trentmann at Nina.Trentmann@wsj.com
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