This month’s ‘In Good Company’ visits a very, very busy supplier of microbiology testing systems and consumables.
“Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” That’s how company director Brendon Clist describes the team at Fort Richard Laboratories (FRL) and their work over these last two years.
“At the moment all of our focus has been on helping the country fight against Covid-19,” says Brendon. “The team has been putting in the hours.”
When the virus arrived in 2020 the Auckland-based medical distributor increased the rate of supply dramatically, going from shipping approximately 13,000 swab test kits a month to 250,000 each month.
“The logistical challenges are huge,” says Brendon. “While we can manufacture in-house to keep supply going, we still need equipment and raw materials from international sources.”
“Mainfreight have been incredibly good,” he says, and the company has a dedicated government contact to ensure the supply chain is as reliable as possible. FRL has also invested in additional capability to keep kits moving around the country.
“We’ve bought our own truck and trailer so we can quickly transport goods from the port in Tauranga to here,” Brendon says. “Yes, our logistics partners are amazing, but this extra capacity also really helps.”
So too does it help when FRL can call on their friends from around New Zealand.
“We needed to get the test kits urgently around the country,” says Clist. “Freight at that time was a problem. We were having test kits coming through customs and needing to get them to the labs as quickly as possible. These aren’t the type of shipments that can wait overnight.”
“And that’s what happened with Universal Packaging recently, I knew the guys there – they’re a fantastic supplier of ours. So we put in the call to see if anyone could meet us halfway and get the kits quickly back down to Palmerston North. Jed (Goudie) made the drive.”
“I’m just super proud of our team,” says Brendon. “Everyone’s put in the hours. That’s weekends, night shifts, anything and everything that needed doing in order to keep our country testing.”
Besides all this work the FRL team are also looking further afield to help out others less fortunate within the grip of the pandemic. Recently the company joined others in donating much-needed gear to Fiji.
“The Fijians are struggling with Covid so anything we can do is helpful,” says Brendon. “We had spare space in a container so stocked it up with 150,000 masks, 120 cartons of gloves and others items from Amtech Medical, Coshield and Unipak.”