| July 9, 2020
Earlier this year, Biolantic Services Inc. co-founder and general manager, Mike Loder, was looking forward to another year of business growth for his young start-up. The medical device service company based in St. John’s, Newfoundland, was projecting its biggest year yet, with revenues doubling annually for three years running. But then Loder started hearing of the serious impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, and wondered if his was next in line.
“We had no idea what was going to happen,” he says. “We started to see business after business close in other provinces and wondered if it was going to be us next. We knew we would now have to start to prepare for the inevitable.”
The potential revenue loss would be a big blow for the growing company, but more importantly, with travel restrictions, it would be difficult for health providers to have their life-saving equipment serviced precisely when it was needed most. Loder realized he and his team had to work fast.
A problem-solver by nature, Loder started his career as an equipment service rep for a medical device manufacturer in Newfoundland, but found working for just one manufacturer limiting and impractical. Many hospitals and other clinics had to wait weeks to get equipment serviced by specialist technologists employed by individual manufacturers who often flew out to the Atlantic provinces from places like Toronto or Montreal. Critical medical equipment often experienced significant downtime causing healthcare delays. Loder knew the most expedient solution was to offer his services through multiple manufacturers, so Atlantic Canada would see the same level of service that larger Canadian centres enjoy.
He decided to start a company employing biomedical technologists in Atlantic Canada that would be a subcontractor for larger medical companies. “Instead of them ordering a technician from out of the province, why don’t I go to these manufacturers and say, ‘We have technologists here’?” Loder recalls.
He created the company originally as a side hustle while teaching at the College of the North Atlantic, where he continues to recruit many of his technologists today. He secured financing through Futurpreneur, which allowed him to purchase the equipment he needed to launch Biolantic. Today the company provides local service to a vast array of healthcare facilities, including hospitals, veterinarians, optometrists, dentists and more.
By early 2020, Biolantic had secured a number of multinational contracts. However, with the onset of COVID-19, travel restrictions put this work in jeopardy since the company’s team could not travel for the training they needed to service new equipment.
“Our team got together and looked at every angle of the pandemic, the immediate needs in our region and how we could position ourselves to still operate. This would be a time our customers would need us the most,” he points out.
Their first step was to contact government officials and public health departments to get the team designated as essential workers so they could travel throughout the region when needed. Then, they began a massive research effort, reaching out to companies they thought would need help once the pandemic reached the eastern provinces.
“Our focus quickly became ventilators, hospital beds, and PPE sterilizers. However, the required factory training was going to be a major obstacle because it required our staff to travel both nationally and internationally,” says Loder.
The team initially conceived of a state-of-the-art remote training studio where technologists could get training on the new equipment without leaving the province. In the end, two technologists were dispatched to Ontario where they received intensive factory training for the equipment that was going to be used nationwide to help protect front-line medical workers. Despite the complexities of travel planning and the need to self-isolate upon return to Newfoundland, the team went ahead.
While the pandemic has forced many of the clinics that Biolantic Services Inc. works with to shut down, and the company continues to face challenges, Loder is cautiously optimistic about the future because manufacturers are seeing the benefit of having local technologists trained on servicing their products.
Loder believes his company will still meet their growth targets this year. He sees Biolantic Services Inc. playing a key role in helping to keep healthcare facilities running at full capacity well into the future.
“I think our major role right now is to make sure that we have the resources in place and we have our technologists trained so if something like this comes along again or the second wave hits, we’ve got feet on the ground and we can make sure that all the current equipment can be serviced.”
The company continues to invest in its R&D to create efficiencies and has kept all staff fully employed so far.
“These people are the front-line workers that keep our medical devices functioning. They repair and maintain critical equipment like ventilators to ensure they are available when needed most. They’ve certainly helped to make a difference during the pandemic.”
To learn more about Biolantic Services Inc., visit their website: