Published: May 25, 2020

Ryan McMunnWhen he and his wife were diagnosed with COVID-19, Ryan McMunn (BS’02) experienced the alarming effects of the virus firsthand. When they finally recovered, they knew they had to do something to help. They decided to find more surgical masks for frontline medical professionals in their community.

“We knew that there was a need for them and understood how bad this virus could be after my wife Allie and I both came down with it. Despite being relatively young and healthy, it was terrible—I was almost hospitalized twice,” says McMunn, a Leeds School of Business alumnus and CEO of Tricam Industries, CEO and founder of BRIC Language Systems, and founder of Leroy Street Capital. His wife, Allie McMunn, is an interior designer and owns One Bleecker Interiors.

After witnessing “the courage and sacrifice” of doctors and nurses, the McMunns sourced hundreds of masks from the Furlion factory in China, a business partner and producer of ladders for Tricam. They donated these to UC Health Boulder and the Anschutz Medical Campus, and to their teams at Tricam and One Bleecker.

What goes around

When the COVID-19 outbreak first happened in China last year, McMunn connected Furlion with a sourcing partner in Vietnam to get masks for the factory’s staff. Then, when the virus spread to the U.S., Furlion sent their extra masks to Tricam.

“With all of the negativity currently being directed at China, and the deterioration of the U.S.-China relationship, here is a Chinese company helping out their U.S. partners…and the local community here. There is a lot of good in this world if you pay attention to what’s actually happening on a human level,” says McMunn.

The U.S., China, and Leeds

Furlion is the same factory, coincidentally, that McMunn had arranged for Professor Lori Seward’s MBA students to visit this spring before the pandemic brought study abroad to a halt. Last year, in better times, 20 graduate students from Seward’s “Global Perspectives: Operations in China” class toured the factory.

An advocate for bridging the cultural divide between China and the U.S., McMunn established the Ryan McMunn International Business Scholarship at Leeds in 2012 to give undergraduates an opportunity to learn about diverse cultures and business practices. He also travels the world speaking to young business graduates who are preparing to enter today’s global workforce.

A global entrepreneur himself, he founded BRIC Language, an interactive, online language learning program that reduces the time it takes to learn Mandarin by 50%. (Naturally, McMunn is fluent.)

While the full impact of the pandemic on the international business community remains to be seen, the McMunns are focused on how they can help their local community.

“[Donating masks] was really the only way that we had to contribute. But now we’re hoping to donate plasma since we have tested positive for the antibodies,” says McMunn.