Community//

Dave Aquino of Certain Supply: “We are quite hopeful that the pandemic and the challenged response will never occur again”

We are quite hopeful that the pandemic and the challenged response will never occur again. We are focused on ensuring and influencing our government and leadership that a return to true civil-defense preparedness including suppliers, logistics, US manufacturing is a sacred and sacrosanct. We want Certain Supply to be part of the ongoing solution. The […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

We are quite hopeful that the pandemic and the challenged response will never occur again. We are focused on ensuring and influencing our government and leadership that a return to true civil-defense preparedness including suppliers, logistics, US manufacturing is a sacred and sacrosanct. We want Certain Supply to be part of the ongoing solution.


The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.

As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Aquino.

David Aquino grew frustrated by a barrage of news stories that health care workers and people on the front lines couldn’t get PPE. He thought, how can I create a solution by providing this product? That motivation, in combination with his background of leading apparel companies and global supply chain management, was a natural fit. David Aquino set out and founded Certain Supply, the ethical PPE company.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was born in Morristown, NJ and grew up in Montvale, NJ. I have an older sister and my parents were both professionals with my father a VP of Marketing and my mother an editor for higher education textbooks. My parents divorced when I was 13 but was fortunate to have a stepfather who is a PhD in Economics and a successful entrepreneur and learned a lot from his expertise. I attended undergraduate at Syracuse University and focused on Marketing and Supply Chain and received an MBA from Fordham University.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My grandfather and father always reinforced that “there is a helping hand at the end of your arm!” Urgency, self-reliance, and creativity are necessary to get things done well.

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

The movie Vision Quest in an odd way has been a powerful movie and motivator. Wrestling was a sport of mine in younger years, the competition and difficult odds, the music and themes along with the love story and family story I think made me believe in the underdog, and commitment to winning.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?

I spent more than 25 years focused on global supply chain management with large consumer products, apparel, and publishing companies including Unilever, Pepsi, Scholastic and Aramark. I have been blessed with having amazing mentors and role-models and most recently was the COO/CIO at SharkNinja a multi-billion dollar home appliance company based in Needham, MA.

What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?

I had exited my role with SharkNinja and was thankfully at home in Irvine, CA developing some entrepreneurial options as I wanted to do something different. Much of my professional experience in managing global supply chains for the apparel industry fit incredibly well with the challenges the US was having in supply PPE. My wife Gwen and I decided that it made sense to help provide solutions. We decided that sourcing, manufacturing ,and distributing PPE leveraging the experience and relationships I had would be worth the risk.

Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?

As soon as we started selling, we were overwhelmed with demand. So many companies had been disappointed by “suppliers” that were just profiteers, brokers, or crooks. We couldn’t respond to companies fast enough and our email application broke. This was when I realized that we had something.

How are things going with this new initiative?

We have been compressing likely years of learning into months. The PPE market is nascent but also insane. We are scaling, testing, learning, and adjusting. We have been blessed to work with amazing colleagues and partners across the world. As a startup each day feels like a multi-act play!

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

As mentioned earlier, my stepfather has and continues to be an incredible role model, inspiration, and advisor. Bernie and his family-owned JR Tobacco and made it incredibly successful and a true juggernaut for their specialty retail industry. I was fortunate to learn from him and get to go into the stores in NYC and work on occasion with him. Bernie’s ability to connect academic intellect, with “street smart” guerilla marketing and disruption is a good recipe for success. JR Tobacco made it on to the front page of the business section of the NY Times. Bernie retired as I was entering college [he was only 50 years old]. As I am now 50 and just starting this venture, I feel empowered.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

  • 200k dollars fraudulent customer — how do we survive
  • Banks treating everyone as criminals — hurts honest businesses
  • Customers coming to our Distribution Center with 30k dollars in cash for gloves

What are “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  • You need much more money than you think
  • Faster is not better always
  • Listen to your wife
  • Stop trying to do everything at once
  • Force yourself to organize each day

So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?

Our business sadly emanates from this horrific tragedy and our wellness and stability is enhanced by serving the customers that need us most! While we are always stressed, I think we are learning to accept small wins and cherish the connections we are making in providing critically needed products. Sleep has been a premium and luxury but when it happens it is wonderful.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

We are quite hopeful that the pandemic and the challenged response will never occur again. We are focused on ensuring and influencing our government and leadership that a return to true civil-defense preparedness including suppliers, logistics, US manufacturing is a sacred and sacrosanct. We want Certain Supply to be part of the ongoing solution.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I would truly love to meet Dr. Anthony Fauci. He speaks like a lot of my family who is still on the East Coast and has been an incredible inspiration and motivator for us to get involved. We want our company and our mission to be something good that came out of this tragedy.

How can our readers follow you online?

https://certainshop.com/
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Arlissa Vaughn: “Being hopeful is better than despair”

by Karina Michel Feld
How Globalization Will Look After COVID-19
Community//

How Globalization Will Look After COVID-19

by Laurel Delaney
Community//

Josh Otusanya: “Mental Health Matters”

by Phil La Duke
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.