ALS owner Pat Phibbs shares insights that helped the company survive, thrive and support other SMEs and a big name self-test company during Covid-19.
After receiving a call from the offices of LetsGetChecked in late March, Pat Phibbs, the managing director and owner of ALS Labelling Solutions, saw great potential in the two companies working together.
ALS is a leading provider and builder of custom labelling machinery and consumables, while LetsGetChecked is a leading health insights company that allows consumers direct access to a wide range of testing options and clinical services from home.
“We had been in contact with LetsGetChecked for about a year and had seen that they were cracking the home testing market in the US and the potential they had,” said Mr Phibbs.
“They were also launching a test for Coronavirus to help US frontline healthcare workers and they needed a system to speed up kit assembly.
“We received a phone call from them requesting an automation system, for build and installation by the end of the week. This was a big ask as the normal lead time would be three to four weeks. We met their tight deadline and actually delivered it within 2.5 days, thanks to a considerable effort from across our team.”
LetsGetChecked was subsequently featured on Fox News in the US and the Irish designed and built ALS system was shown on screen operating in the background.
“They were also launching a test for Coronavirus to help US frontline healthcare workers and they needed a system to speed up kit assembly”
LetsGetChecked had begun seeking fundraising investment in early 2020 and in May secured $71 million (€65.4 million) in their latest funding round, which has supported testing capacity for their proprietary Covid-19 test.
Over the last three months, ALS has completed over €100k worth of business with LetsGetChecked and the relationship continues to grow stronger by the day.
Phibbs explains, “We’re continuing to work with LetsGetChecked across a range of labelling requirements and new robotic automation projects. They have had a huge surge of interest in their company and they recently raised a significant amount in funding, so we are delighted to be in a position to support their growth by helping with the automation aspect they require in order to significantly increase throughput.”
Supporting Irish SMEs
Collaborating to support Irish SMEs is nothing new for ALS. Another Irish SME, which had been hand labelling face shields and dealing with large volume orders from the US as well as local demand, reached out for help, and ALS were able to provide them with both labelling solutions and SME specific financing.
“Their biggest bottleneck was hand labelling, so we were able to immediately help them with this by quickly delivering automated labelling systems. We also put in place a rent to buy agreement for them to help them spread the cost of the new machinery,” added Mr Phibbs.
As well as supporting its customers, ALS were also one of the weekly corporate sponsors for 150 free meals for the vulnerable and frontline heroes, which were cooked and delivered via Poulaphouca House and Falls hotel in West Wicklow.
“I would advise other SMEs to start making incremental digital developments like bringing accounts systems online”
Looking to the future, Mr Phibbs claims it’s hard to predict what might happen, but added that “ALS has developed a good knack of being able to see around corners”.
“The digital changes that we made have kept us agile. Taking the time to fully understand our customers’ challenges during recent events meant we knew their potential next steps and ours.
“I would advise other SMEs to start making incremental digital developments like bringing accounts systems online, it’s a learning curve but the investment will bring business leverage in due course. Also map out the bottlenecks in your own business and in your customers’ businesses, like what we did with supply chains and new product development. Look at a sustainable plan to mitigate both these bottlenecks and build solutions that will stick,” he finished.
Since acquiring ALS in 2007, Mr Phibbs has grown the business to be the leading Irish supplier of customised labelling machinery, Auto-ID and all associated consumables.
By Stephen Larkin
Published: 28 July, 2020