Working with Canadian companies
Examples of how domestic suppliers are stepping up to support Canada’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In March, when the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to spread across Canada, there was a chronic shortage of N-95 masks for frontline health care workers.
The shortage, widely reported by news media, was exacerbated because the masks had to be disposed of after one use.
For the research and development team at the Québec city manufacturer, TSO3, a subsidiary of the Ontario medical technology company Stryker, it was a critical problem in need of an urgent solution. So they began experimenting with their sterilizer, commonly used in hospitals for decontaminating medical instruments.
WUXLY suddenly found itself in the reusable medical gown business in April following a call to members from the Canadian Apparel Federation.
“Within hours, we mobilized an alliance of manufacturers we already work with—about seven or eight companies,” says Yurichuk. “We had a Zoom meeting and decided how best we could tackle this project together. Within a couple of weeks, we were able to obtain our licence with Health Canada.”
Ask David Welsh, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PRI-MED, what the past few months have been like as leader of Canada’s primary supplier of personal protective equipment (PPE), and he hesitates for a few seconds.
“Everything is a bit of a blur right now,” he says.
It was a hawk living in a tall tree above Rob and Sarah Fraser’s Ottawa street that inspired the name for their new medical products company.
Rob saw it as the perfect symbol for the company they were planning to create.
“I liked the imagery of the bird looking down and watching everything that was going on in the community, like it was overseeing the community,” said Rob.
The Medicom Group, a Montréal-based international medical supplier, has committed to a 10-year contract with the federal government to supply N95 respirators and level 3 earloop surgical masks.
The N95 respirators offer protection from sprays or fluids, or in the COVID-19 context, coughs, sneezes and other potentially contagious droplets.
When COVID-19 forced the closing of businesses across Canada, Toronto Stamp’s 113-year history was on the verge of an abrupt and sad end.
“Overnight the phone had stopped ringing,” said Jimmy Williams, the company’s General Manager. “We were putting measures in place to keep our people safe, but at the same time thinking we might have to close our doors and not open them again. Our future looked grim.”
Then came a WhatsApp message that changed everything.
In the early days of March, as COVID-19 began spreading across Canada, Manitoba’s Spirit Healthcare Group of Companies coordinated with its existing contacts in China for the delivery of essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for the province’s First Nations.
SpiritRx Services, the group’s pharmacy and medical supply company, received the product less than three weeks later and began assembling family safety kits for Manitoba’s 63 First Nations communities.
Fluid Energy CEO Clay Purdy heads a company whose mission is to make the world a cleaner place.
The Calgary-based chemical processing and manufacturing firm has experienced rapid growth since its founding in 2011. Working primarily with the oil and gas industry, it developed relationships internationally with major oil-producing countries, taking commodities such as hydrochloric acid—a rock-dissolving drilling agent—modifying it to greatly reduce its corrosive and hazardous impact and selling it back for continued use.
Aside from the oil and gas industry, Fluid’s diverse customer base includes the concrete and food industries, water treatment plants, nuclear power plants and the U.S. Navy.
When The Stevens Company was founded in London, England, in 1830, surgical procedures were still being performed without anesthetic. The attending surgeons, unaware of the existence of germs, would dress in their regular street clothes.
The founder of this venerable company, James Stevens, a surgical instrument maker, made many of the now primitive-looking instruments used in those operations.
In early March, Jeremy Hedges was, in his words, leading a ‘scrappy little company’ producing 3D printers, laser cutters and high-tech instruction materials for schools.
InkSmith, his Waterloo, Ontario, start-up was barely four years old and was operating with just 10 employees.
What happened next is the stuff of an entrepreneur’s wildest dreams, albeit brought to his door by a nightmare pandemic.
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