Welcome to The Pivot series, where we celebrate the resilience and innovation of Atlantic Canadians entrepreneurs who adapted tremendously to face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked business leaders from across the region to tell us in their own words how they navigated the new economy and the lessons they learned along the way. Here is what one entrepreneur had to say.
Craig D. Ralph, General Manager
Prior to the pandemic, Avalon Laboratories was focused only on environmental testing. Under our accreditation for ISO 17025, we provided testing in areas of microbiology, toxicology, water quality and oil and gas. Our customers ranged from fisheries to mining and we had 8 to 12 full-time employees.
Then March 2020 came around and we all know what that means. At first, there was fear, and then a strong desire to help. We had the skills and knowledge to be of service so we pivoted to medical diagnostic testing capabilities. We became Atlantic Canada’s one and only private medical diagnostic laboratory. We obtained ISO 15189 accreditation, expanded our base of customers extensively secured multi-year contracts and increased our human resource base to 42 full-time employees. The Avalon brand has truly been “Built on trust” in every corner of our province.
Our customers were grateful we pivoted, as many would not have been able to operate during the pandemic without our testing capacity. We kept mines open, fish plants working, TV shows filming, people flying, and much more. In short, we were able to help keep parts of our economy moving while keeping people and their communities safe.
All the new measures we employed during the pandemic will remain post-COVID. Our internal operating processes are stronger, we are leaner, more flexible, very sophisticated, more innovative, and very strong technically. While it wasn’t a straight line to success, we are ever so thankful for the support of many who helped us grow and empowered us to play a role in this unprecedented event.
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