May 20, 2020
MAKO Medical Laboratories, located in the Vance County town of Henderson, North Carolina, has generated a new level of excitement in the region. Three years ago MAKO Medical set up shop in Henderson and helped breathe new life into the town of 15,000 citizens.
“MAKO has been a Godsend to this community,” said Archie Taylor, Vance County Commissioner. “Those of us who have been here a long time have seen a lot of growth in the area and a company like MAKO comes in and exposes our citizens to what’s going on in the modern 21st century.”
MAKO’s presence in Henderson helped the local economy in a number of ways. In addition to hiring lab team members, local residents were hired to service the MAKO building, MAKO bought a fleet of vehicles from a local car dealership and together MAKO team members visited area restaurants and other business establishments. The community was profiting.
Government shutdowns, combined with mandates to self-quarantine, disrupted a region that was making inroads. Vance County, like communities areas across the United States, has experienced climbing unemployment rates due to the COVID crisis. MAKO Medical was not immune to the fallout.
“We’ve seen challenging times like much of America,” said Steve Hoover, MAKO Medical’s Vice President of Laboratory Operations. “Laying off people was extremely difficult.”
As hospitals, urgent care centers and other healthcare businesses either shut down, or cut back on medical procedures, MAKO Medical’s business drastically declined. The company was left with no other option but to downsize operations, and that meant personnel too.
Reeling from that blow, the MAKO Medical leadership team gathered together and refused to give in. In what seemed like “overnight,” MAKO Medical retooled its business model to begin offering COVID-19 testing, and a revenue switch flipped.
“We transformed into the COVID environment where we’ve rapidly developed into one of the top COVID testing labs in America right now,” Hoover says.
In addition to the COVID-19 nasal swabs that people have become accustomed to seeing, MAKO medical is now processing two different COVID-19 antibody tests. The Abbott SARS-CoV-2 IgG and the Diasorin Liaison SARS-CoV-2 S1/S2 IgG tests are EUA FDA approved and validated.
“Both of the tests we offer here at Mako. We offer them because we want to get people back to work. We know what it’s like to lose your job and not have money coming in,” said Kristin Harding, MAKO Medical’s Quality Assurance Director. “I’ve had family members that haven’t worked in 2 months. They’re starting to feel the pinch.”
The professionals at MAKO Medical are analyzing samples inside the lab and deploying mobile testing units to areas around the Southeast to collect samples. In May a mobile MAKO phlebotomy team traveled to a law firm in South Carolina as workplaces in South Carolina prepare to reopen.
“We appreciated Mako Medical’s professionalism and quick test results to our law firm,” said Bakari Sellers, an attorney with the Strom Law Firm. “These antibody tests provide some peace of mind to some of our employees as our return to work process begins.”
“The more we can test, the more we can get in there and help local governments, help businesses, help manufacturers, help the meat packing plants so they can tell if their employees are infected or not,” says Hoover. “MAKO can come in and give you an answer in 24- 48 hours offering peace of mind for employers and employees.”
Faster turnaround times set MAKO Medical apart from its competitors.
“When someone doesn’t feel very well, they feel sick, or are showing symptoms and they send in a swab- until they get their results back, every single hour, every single day, is excruciating for them,” says John Nguyen, President of MAKO Medical’s Nutritional DNA Division. “Think about the difference in being able to know in 24 hours if you’re safe, if you’re ok, if your family is going to be ok, verses waiting 10 to 14 days.”
MAKO Medical is currently processing more than 10,000 tests per day, with plans to increase that number to 25,000 by the end of May. In addition, MAKO has expanded its operations from 50 people working on one shift to 150 people working around the clock. Currently, 450 people are employed full time at MAKO Medical and company leaders expect to see that number climb to 500 by the end of May.
Hoover says MAKO will continue to add instrumentation and employees to keep up with demand. “We are at the epicenter of clinical research and development – exciting times to be in the laboratory space and what a blessing it continues to be on all of us to be able to provide testing to so many.”
“You look around at the potential people we are touching every day, not just locally, but globally. It’s amazing,” said Clever Prince, MAKO Medical’s Director of Supply Chain.
Prince retired from the United States Army after two decades of service. He’s been with MAKO Medical for 5 years. And while Prince says a lot has changed over the last five weeks, the company’s core values remain constant. “MAKO offers hope to veterans.”
Since the company’s inception, MAKO Medical’s leadership team committed to hiring U.S. Military Veterans for positions in logistics and operations. The U.S. Department of Labor recognized MAKO with a Medallion Award for honoring that commitment.
In the Army, Prince served because he wanted to protect people and keep them safe. Prince says his goals are the same in his current position with MAKO Medical. “A lot of people say we collect samples, but it’s more than that. This impacts somebody’s life. And so being able to take that sample, bring it in to the lab and allow them to run the tests, and give patients rapid results – it’s pivotal for everybody to get back to work. That’s what we’re trying to do, to make sure everyone stays healthy and gets back to work.”