In the healthcare field, the ability to transport medical specimens quickly, safely and at the proper temperatures is essential because lives literally depend on it – especially during the global pandemic. The packaging of specimens such as blood cultures, organs, COVID test swabs and hopefully soon, vaccines, is critical to success.
As a result, a Hialeah manufacturer has seen its business double in 2020, its busiest year yet with no letup in sight.
Thermal Custom Packaging Corp., or TCP, makes insulated containers and the chemical reactions for transporting medical specimens.
“We have a complete solution. We make the insulated containers and chemical reactions that transport specimens refrigerated, frozen and ultra-cold. We also make all the test tube racks and all the pathology bags and COVID bags for the medical field,” said Dr. Clifford Glade, director of the small business that has been operating since 2009.
One of TCP’s biggest clients over the last 15 years has been the giant Kaiser Permanente. “With our equipment we move 250,000 specimens every morning for Kaiser,” Glade said. Recently Kaiser asked TCP to move an additional 40,000 COVID tests every morning, so the company is gearing up for that right now.
What’s more, TCP recently picked up Sloan Kettering in New York as a client. TCP provides the products that move the hospitals’ biological pharmaceuticals. TCP also has contracts with VA Hospitals and the State of California’s hospital system. Two stem cell companies want TCP’s help transporting frozen stem cells, too. “What is occurring is our name is getting further and further out there,” Glade said.
As the COVID-19 vaccines roll out, TCP could be a key player in that, as well. Though TCP’s talks with the government have been preliminary so far, Moderna, one of the vaccine makers, requires 20.5 degrees centigrade temperatures. “We’re the only one that I’m aware of that moves minus 21,” Glade said.
Although TCP’s client list is a who’s who in healthcare, the company also manufactures hard cases for military guns. For a certain government agency, TCP has been given the opportunity to move sophisticated radio transmission equipment and batteries. Its Energy Box provides power for the military on the move and can be recharged using solar energy.
The company even received an inquiry about products for transporting frozen foods. Retail Business Services that own food chains in the Northeast recently inquired about contracting TCP. “That would be another large opportunity for us.”
As one could imagine, managing all the growth is the big challenge of the moment, Glade said. As new orders and inquiries keep coming in, TCP’s business has doubled since the start of the pandemic.
Some of that growth is by design. Glade said the company made a strategic decision last year to pursue higher growth grow and actively pursue new clients. And some of it is related to pandemic. Nobody saw that coming – and in a lot of cases recently, the companies or government entities have sought out TCP, not the other way around.
The manufacturer has added six employees, some of them specialists in their fields, in recent months. TCP employs 14 full-time employees.
The manufacturer is rapidly outgrowing its facility but it’s difficult to estimate how much more space may be needed amid the recent growth. TCP can’t stop everything to make a move, and expanding with large manufacturing equipment and chemicals is expensive and no easy logistical feat. “Do you quadruple your space overnight, and then that’s not big enough, and then you add 20 people and that not enough It could cause some major problems for us. So I’m trying to do it in a logical manner,” Glade said.
Fortunately, Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center with the university’s College of Business, has provided a badly needed “sounding board” for these growth management issues, Glade said. Florida SBDC at FIU business consultants offer no-cost consulting to small businesses in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.
The team of consultants at FSBDC at FIU has helped Glade in many ways, even before the pandemic, to help the company with its growth strategy.
With the guidance of FSBDC at FIU, he said, the company strategically revamped its websites and redid all its advertising and brochures.
The arrival of COVID brought other needs – and expenses – such as the building of “virtual booths” for all the large trade shows the company would normally travel to this year, if they hadn’t gone virtual because of the pandemic.
What’s more, the FSBDC at FIU team also helped TCP decide how to move forward with social media, Glade said. “All this is new for us. We were a hands-on face-to-face meeting company.”
FSBDC at FIU has “allowed me to have outside people with experience listening to our issues and advising us,” Glade said. That’s been invaluable. “So much has been happening so quickly.”
And more business may be on way. With the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and the necessity of transporting them in cold or ultra-cold conditions, TCP is likely to get the call.