Carolina Covertech – Leading Through Crisis

Group photoMany South Carolina companies have (and still are) endured a crisis with the pandemic. Employee safety, sales continuity, strategic planning, community service, and sundry other organizational components were impacted since March of 2020. Carolina CoverTech also experienced this crisis.

In the first OpExChange event of 2021, Rian True, President and owner, and Lisa Stuart, Vice-President of Operations, discussed how they accomplished this. Bill Bliss, President of Bliss & Associates, led the Zoom conversation with Rian and Lisa.

Carolina CoverTech is a family-owned contract manufacturer in North Augusta that specializes in products that cover, protect, enclose, and contain. They have been an active OpExChange member for over nine years. Carolina CoverTech was recognized at the Manufacturing Conference and Expo last October for their rapid response to the pandemic, and for their quick reaction to help-out the front-line workers. During this time, they added four new product lines and more than doubled their workforce. What makes this response even more remarkable is that they not only endured this crisis, but also underwent three other “significant events” recently – a major computer system crash, the purchase of another company, and a buy-out of an existing partner.

During the discussion, both Rian and Lisa conversed candidly about each situation. A common denominator of three factors resonated from each of these events – Trust, Teamwork, and Transparency. All of these are key values of their leadership team and are intrinsic in their culture.

Rian shared that leadership of a small company should include two types of individuals. One should be the person who pushes new ideas and concepts. The other should be the person who really enjoys the implementation. Bill pointed out that Rian is the outside sales guy, “who never met a stranger.” Lisa is the one who “gets stuff done.”

Although Rian and Lisa are uniquely distinct leadership types, it was evident that both shared the qualities of humility and empathy. When asked how a leader should behave when going through similar situations, Rian said a leader should have “have high contact, exhibiting positivity, being the same co-worker that you are every day, and be as transparent as possible.” With regards to the Covid crisis, Lisa added that “We want people to visually see what we are doing. Fogging the work area a couple times a day, frequent wipe downs, making them feel safe … We truly care about this group.”

The onset of a crisis is not the time to begin leadership. It is the time when the foundation forged by leadership is tested. A company with a culture nurtured with Trust, Transparency, and Teamwork is one that will adapt and overcome.

An additional resource for manufactures was shared with the OpExChange in the webinar. SCMEP created a series of seven videos on “Navigating The Storm.” Although created for the pandemic, Chris Wayne, their Vice President of Growth Services gives sage advice for traversing any crisis with guidance on communication, workforce, strategy, marketing, and more. This is available at no cost at


The OpExChange is a peer-to-peer network of companies in South Carolina dedicated to learning and growing together. Member companies host events and share practical examples of industrial automation, lean manufacturing improvements, and leadership development. It is an invaluable resource to South Carolina companies that provide access to others who are on similar improvement journeys.

If you are interested in joining, contact Mike Demos ( Visit the OpExChange website to see current companies:

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