Charles Miller of SHOWA Group: “Dedication ”

I believe the majority of people are taking precautions to protect themselves and others by following the guidelines suggested by the disease control professionals. The people that ignore the risks are the concern as they put themselves and others in danger. Remember, the proper use of effective PPE will continue to help slow the spread […]

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I believe the majority of people are taking precautions to protect themselves and others by following the guidelines suggested by the disease control professionals. The people that ignore the risks are the concern as they put themselves and others in danger. Remember, the proper use of effective PPE will continue to help slow the spread of diseases, including COVID-19.

As part of my series about people who stepped up to make a difference during the COVID19 Pandemic, I had the pleasure of interviewing Charles Miller.

Charles Miller is the Vice President — Sales for SHOWA Group. He has worked for SHOWA Group since 2003. Charles served as a Regional Manager for the company prior to moving to the sale department in 2015. SHOWA Group is a leading manufacturer of single-use, Nitrile PPE gloves that are used daily by front-line workers and first responders.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how and where you grew up?

I grew up in a small town in Central Alabama that depended heavily on industrial and manufacturing jobs to support families and communities.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. There are many ways to apply the seven habits in everyday life whether it be personal or professional. I personally like the importance of Habit 2, “Begin With the End in Mind”. One has to have a vision of the desired outcome, then be willing to utilize skills and apply desire to achieve that outcome.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

One of the most meaningful quotes is from Epictetus — “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Life offers many changes, some caused by one’s self and some that are out of one’s control. I believe we live in a “change or be changed” world; successful people utilize their willingness to adapt to achieve a better outcome. COVID-19 has certainly affected all our lives. We didn’t cause it, but together we must make necessary life changes to overcome its effect.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. You are currently leading a social impact organization that has stepped up during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to address?

SHOWA is the only U.S. manufacturer and distributor of nitrile, single-use PPE gloves. Our COVID-19 PPE gloves are relied upon by front-line workers, government agencies at every level and industries critical to ensuring businesses can operate safely and protect consumers during the pandemic, such as healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, food processing and retail.

In your opinion, what does it mean to be a hero?

A hero is a person that is willing to invest time training to improve their performance, regardless of their profession, so they are most prepared to achieve the best outcome when they see an opportunity to contribute. Taking action is key, whether it is a first responder attending to a life-threatening situation, a teacher giving guidance to a child that will be life guiding or the service worker providing safer environments for us to enjoy. I consider our manufacturing team members heroes, as they continue to work hard every day to develop gloves that provide front-line workers the protection they need in their jobs.

In your opinion or experience, what are “5 characteristics of a hero? Please share a story or example for each.

Fortitude — It starts with having the spirit to impact results.

Dedication — Dedicate yourself to improve your professional skills.

Awareness — You have to have the ability to see a situation where you can influence a positive outcome.

Determination — A hero is determined to cause a positive outcome regardless of the effort it takes.

Proactive — Be willing to take action without being called or asked to do so.

If heroism is rooted in doing something difficult, scary, or even self-sacrificing, what do you think drives some people — ordinary people — to become heroes?

Heroes are willing to step up and take action without hesitation, when they can help someone or a cause in need.

What was the specific catalyst for you or your organization to take heroic action? At what point did you personally decide that heroic action needed to be taken?

SHOWA has been manufacturing gloves in Fayette, Alabama for thirty years. The pandemic has obviously caused a dramatic increase in demand for PPE gloves. SHOWA made the decision towards the end of 2019 to expand the Fayette plant that would ultimately double its manufacturing capacity. It was a very timely decision. We currently employ over 400 workers in the U.S. and are creating new jobs for Americans every day.

Who are your heroes, or who do you see as heroes today?

Workers that have adapted to revised operating protocols to keep themselves safe while continuing to ensure that other essential businesses operate safely.

Let’s talk a bit about what is happening in the world today. What specifically frightened or frightens you most about the pandemic?

The United States’ reliance on an overseas supply chain should be a concern for all Americans. FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said recently that the US is still months away from meeting demand for PPE. He even went as far to say the country’s reliance on overseas PPE supply is a national security issue.

More than 60% of the world’s PPE glove supply is made in Malaysia, with the majority of remaining supply coming from Thailand and China. Compare that to the United States — where less than 1% of the total supply of PPE gloves is manufactured — and it’s easy to see the challenges our country faces as we continue to battle through this pandemic.

Despite that, what gives you hope for the future? Can you explain?

That legislators from both side of the aisle recognize the importance of increased domestic manufacturing. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown recently introduced a bill that would increase the US stockpile of PPE to allow for quick ramp up of American-made supplies to protect against future emergencies. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham also introduced legislation to bring PPE supply from China back to the US.

What has inspired you the most about the behavior of people during the pandemic, and what behaviors do you find most disappointing?

I believe the majority of people are taking precautions to protect themselves and others by following the guidelines suggested by the disease control professionals. The people that ignore the risks are the concern as they put themselves and others in danger. Remember, the proper use of effective PPE will continue to help slow the spread of diseases, including COVID-19.

Has this crisis caused you to reassess your view of the world or of society? We would love to hear what you mean.

We have allowed ourselves to be vulnerable by being too dependent on supply chains that we have little or no control over. It’s critical to bring a reasonable amount of manufacturing back to America, especially for essential goods.

What permanent societal changes would you like to see come out of this crisis?

As it relates to SHOWA, this crisis has caused a spike in the amount of PPE that is discarded irresponsibly. Lots of gloves and masks can been seen on roads or even in parks. It’s something SHOWA has been monitoring for years. We’d like to improve the way single-use products are disposed. Over one billion gloves are thrown away globally each year. If laid out end to end continuously, that’s 13.2 million miles long, or 530 trips around the globe.

SHOWA consistently invests in R&D to develop innovative, high-quality gloves that customers can rely on even in the most demanding and industry-specific environments. SHOWA’s revolutionary, biodegradable Eco Best Technology® (EBT) makes a difference to the environment. Once these biodegradable gloves have been disposed of in active landfill sites, microorganisms excrete enzymes that break down the bonds of the nitrile polymer. Studies have shown these gloves can degrade up to 60–70% in just over a year.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Every single US Citizen needs to make it their responsibility to have a positive impact on our world’s environment! They should be passionate about finding ways to improve it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would ask that U.S. corporations make a commitment to direct 10–20% percent of PPE needs to USA made products. Buying more products made in the USA will lessen our dependency on off-shore manufacturing for essential operating goods.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Vice President Mike Pence.

How can our readers follow you online?

Readers can follow SHOWA on Twitter and LinkedIn. They can also visit our website —

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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