Local Business Grows 36% During COVID-19 Shutdown
By Amy DeGeer Roten
The Coronavirus has created a devastating impact on public health, as well as economic shock. However, COVID-19 has not impacted all industries equally. Some companies deemed essential by the State of Michigan are experiencing growth, albeit, not without challenges. This post will highlight how COVID-19 has supported some growth opportunities while simultaneously creating obstacles and how Impact Analytical worked through the inimitable challenges facing “essential” business to reap the benefits of 2020’s unforeseen opportunities.
Midway through the third quarter and Impact Analytical (IA) has experienced 36% business growth. Looking ahead to 2021, the company is forecasting $6 million in revenue. They’ve added four new employees and will likely add four to six more over the next year. They have plans for more than $1 million in capital investment, and they’ve penetrated new markets and captured new clients to help improve public health as well as their bottom line all during a global pandemic.
Strategy Meets New Opportunity
Since 2013, IA has focused on strategical growth. President Neil Chapman explained, “We focus on specific sectors – we do not try to be everything to everyone.”
Unlike any other testing lab in the Great Lakes Bay Region, Impact Analytical can detect low levels of contaminants in many different materials. The 2020-21 strategy called for a focus on six sectors: bioanalytical, agrosciences, specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, health and beauty, and medical devices. When the strategy was being developed, they had no idea that a pandemic would create a staggering increase in demand.
When COVID-19 hit, the surge from pharma and medical device sectors skyrocketed. Impact Analytical rose to the occasion and won contracts with multiple companies and organizations to provide testing of medical devices for the transportation of life-saving drugs and other pharmaceutical products that work with the COVID-19 testing kits.
But trying to meet new demands while social distancing, staggering shifts, embracing a remote workforce, and implementing pandemic-related requirements for HR and MIOSHA made filling orders tough. Chapman said, “I think some of the state mandates made business a challenge. For instance, we implemented staggered shifts to minimize human interaction but the state mandated that a supervisor needed to be on-site whenever workers were present. As a small business, that is incredibly difficult to achieve.”
Many businesses struggled to find their way, but IA had a leg up on these protocols. “As a lab business, PPE is our normal mode of working. We operate as a tightly controlled unit which makes us pretty self-sufficient,” Chapman explained. “Within 24 hours, we were able to implement face masks, social distancing, and work remotely where possible. Our operation did not stall as we implemented these changes.”
During the shutdown, IA kept up with the new pharma and medical device demands. When the State of Michigan rolled back the mandates and allowed certain sectors to reopen, IA had a backlog of work that came in surges.
The ability to detect low levels of contaminants in many different materials differentiates Impact Analytical from other testing labs in the Region and the State.
Manpower Fuels Prosperity
Chapman credits IA’s talented and cohesive team as the power that has fueled the company’s prosperity. “I hire for character and train for expertise. They have to be able to think, be adaptable and willing to learn, and do different things,” he explained. He cited the intangible qualities of IA’s people as a vital element to success.
Historically, finding qualified, experienced people and convincing them to move across the country has not been easy, but the dedicated and deliberate search for the right employees has been worth it. IA has successfully recruited and retained employees and leadership from Texas, Arizona, and Minnesota, among other locations.
When it comes to talent recruitment, IA does not have the resources for an in-house team or an outsourced agency. The task falls on leadership to be agile, resourceful, and dedicated. The company uses its website, LinkedIn, and Indeed.com to recruit talent. “Those are our key tools for hiring staff. Recruiting fees can be crippling for a small business. I believe if Michigan wants to grow and attract talent, a statewide, government-funded recruiting group (be it a job board or dedicated recruiters) could easily attract more technical workers to the State.”
In the end, a global common purpose fueled rapid, innovative decisions that allowed the small, resilient analytical testing lab to give back to the community and society, improve the health and welfare of people, and capture the unforeseen growth presented by COVID-19.