David S. Tay​lor, CEO of Procter & Gamb​le, vists with President Emmanuel Macron in France on Jan. 21, 2019.
Denis ALLARD—REA/Redux

Some of the most enduring images from early on in the pandemic were of empty store shelves, stripped bare by consumers stocking up on toilet paper and cleaning supplies. That resulted in a banner year for P&G, the company that makes Charmin, Mr. Clean and Tide. P&G ended the year with $71 billion in sales, up 6%, after running flat out to meet demand—and not just for its usual products. Early in the crisis, a Boston-based P&G team figured out that the plastic in Gillette packaging could be used to make face shields for health care workers. “We don’t make face shields,” says CEO David Taylor. “But they said, ‘We can. We could repurpose this, change this, work with somebody here,’ and the company ended up making hundreds of thousands of them.

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