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Industry NewsCRISIS LEADERSHIP: In Their Own Words - Peter Neal, Neal Brothers

CRISIS LEADERSHIP: In Their Own Words – Peter Neal, Neal Brothers


Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures; food manufacturers have implemented such measures to ensure that Canadians continue to have access to safe food. They’ve modified their manufacturing process and their supply chains to address unprecedented demand. In this special periodic feature, we bring these behind-the-scenes stories to Grocery Business’ readers.

Peter Neal, co-founder, Neal Brothers

All of us at Neal Brothers have been very impressed with the way in which our retail partners have responded to the crisis. We feel there has been effective mutual transparent communication, a heightened sense of true partnership and also empathetic understanding with all of the mutual challenges we are facing. Thank you to all who have made changes to quick listings for essential items, waived logistic fines etc. in an effort to work together.

Initiatives that demonstrate leadership during the pandemic 

We assisted in the organizing/participation of a Canada-wide video conference led by Patrick Higgins, which saw major retailers, brokers, distributors and brands come together and share protocols and best practices to cope during the crisis. We had decided on March 10 to split our company into two teams – if Team A became infected/compromised then Team B would come out of isolation and keep our products moving. We installed sanitizer stations, offered Uber to eliminate public transit, increased wages and allowed anyone who was overly-anxious to stay home. We also established a daily Zoom Coffee break for anyone who wanted to join in – created a ‘comedy channel’ on our Slack network for people to share fun/funny/positive messages and we also created a Friday 3:30 p.m. social hour in an effort to keep people connected to our family-style culture. We have also ordered cloth masks for everyone through an organization called Shine The Light On in Toronto.

Lessons learned 

We’ve learned that in times of crisis we can trust, support and care for each other as a team and it has underscored our belief that treating our fellow NB team members like family is invaluable. My brother Chris and I were brought up with these values and are grateful to our parents for having instilled this in us. We’ve also learned just how important open, transparent communication is for anyone within your family or community.

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