Raleigh company thrives during pandemic after pivoting to COVID-19 testing

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- For months all we've heard is gut-wrenching stories of businesses going under, and masses of America's left without jobs all because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, as it turns out, some companies aren't just surviving during the pandemic - they are thriving.

That includes Mako Medical, a medical testing company with labs in Raleigh and Henderson.

"It's crazy that something negative put me in a better place in my life," Mako employee NeTasha Miller told ABC11.

Back in March, Miller had an office job in Research Triangle Park.

But the single mother of 12- and 15-year-old boys was laid off because of the pandemic.

"It was very scary because I have a whole full load of bills by myself and two extra mouths to feed," she said, laughing about how much her boys eat.

But Miller wasn't laughing a couple of months ago when her job officially went away.

That was about the same time that Mako Medical was also struggling.

"Almost 40 percent of our core business fell off," said the company's chief operating officer Josh Arant, "We know first-hand know what that downturn feels like. We experienced that for a little bit over a month."

Arant said during that time, his team decided it should try doing tests for COVID-19.

It had much of the equipment, it just needed the chemicals used to analyze the swabs.

Mako's supply chain team diversified its suppliers and now the company is able to analyze 25,000 tests a day with a goal of 35,000 by the end of the month.

That ensures they can continue to deliver results in 24-48 hours.

And now business is booming as companies trying to reopen clamor to get employees tested.

"We continue to add as we continue to grow. We've added team members. We've added instrumentation. We've added additional suppliers as well," Arant said.

Since early April, when the company began COVID-19 testing, it has added nearly 200 team members.

That includes Miller.

When she was laid off, she figured the chance of finding a job during the pandemic was almost nonexistent.

"I thought they were going to be really slim because it was hard to find job placement prior to the pandemic," Miller said. " So, I was very fortunate and very lucky to get another job as quickly as I did."

Miller, who lives in Vance County, also benefitted by saving time on the hour-long commute to RTP and now gets to work in less than 10 minutes.

But she has mixed emotions about her good fortune earned off something that's caused so much pain to so many.

So, she chooses to look at the bright side, saying, "One positive from this is the more people that we can test and learn their status we can help stop the spread of COVID."

Mako officials also try to remind themselves that their good fortune is helping people find work, is keeping their suppliers in business and helping other businesses reopen.

Arant put it like this: "We look at it as the opportunity to help business and the economy flourish."
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