ADA, Mich. (WOOD) — On Monday, Ada-based Amway did what many large companies had already done by pausing operations in Russia because of their invasion of Ukraine.
“The regulatory and supply chain environment for doing business in Russia is extremely challenging,” said Cindy Droog, Amway’s vice president of global communications, reputation and corporate social responsibility.
Amway’s 17-year presence in Russa is substantial.
About a half million Russians have Amway distributorships. They generate about $200 million a year in sales.
While issue with getting products into Russian was part of the decision, the companies business model made it a difficult one.
“A lot of companies made this announcement before we did. But Amway’s business is just a little bit different. We have hundreds of thousands of Amway business owners — our distributors in Russia — and their incomes and livelihoods depend on Amway,” Droog said. “We didn’t want to pull that out from under the people who spent 17 years building that business.”
The larger concern was for the employees and distributors in Ukraine. More than 2,000 people either work directly for or are distributors for Amway in Ukraine.
So the company had to make a quick switch from business to humanitarian efforts.
“Many of them are fleeing. Some are staying behind with their families, or to fight,” Droog said.
Those who left did so with little more than the clothes on their back and a suitcase.
The company began putting relief efforts together. Items like nutrition bars, cookware and hand sanitizer are headed to shelters and hospitals in Ukraine.
Amway has also taken steps to take care of those Ukrainians fleeing to Poland.
“Where we have between (500 to 600) employees there to kind of embrace them, bring them in. And help them with shelter and food and clothing and transportation,” Droog said. “But even toys. Some of them came into Poland and other countries with their kids and could only take one small suitcase or backpack.”
“They help us turn on a switch where we are able to collect and match employee donations, customer donations and Amway business donations almost immediately,” Droog said.
The help has come from beyond Ada and Europe.
“Actually, Japan was one of the first markets who stepped up to the plate and said, ‘We’ve started a fund,'” Droog said.
The fund has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in goods and cash.
“It’s kind of a anything they need situation, which I think is what we would do right here in Ada if we needed to for others,” Droog said.