Carmel Firm Answers Crisis Call
A partner at Carmel-based Aria Diagnostics says the company’s effort to develop COVID-19 testing kits comes from a call for private sector companies to help in the fight against the disease. Officials in New York City announced this week the city is purchasing 50,000 test kits per week from the company, which previously provided drug testing and specialized lab services. Zak Khan says it is exciting to see companies in various sectors show their ingenuity during a time of crisis.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Khan said the company decided to begin making test kits after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked for help from the private sector.
“We just had started maybe two days prior talking about vertically integrating and doing our own manufacturing of those kits. My supply chain director was just talking about how we can probably do it in-house and I think that morning, we decided ‘Let’s go today. Let’s start ordering the supplies and doing it today.’ And then that hit us and immediately I was like, ‘Well if there’s anything better in the world, I don’t know.’ These guys are dying. They don’t have any kits and they’re asking the community to help. So we just kind of heeded the call.”
Khan says the company has been able to bring on workers who had been laid off or furloughed as a result of the pandemic, which began with hiring 12 employees to visit physician offices and let them know of Aria’s testing capabilities.
The company had another hiring wave as it ramped up manufacturing of the test kits. Khan says they’ll have 80 employees on staff by the end of the week. “That’s 80 families that we get to help feed and put food on the table (for) and that’s been an excellent blessing and we’re just super happy to serve in that way.”
Khan says, aside from the New York order, the company has not seen a lot of demand for the test kits. He says the company is trying to be cost conscious during such a trying time, but he expects demand to grow.
“I don’t think there’s enough widespread testing yet to account for such a high demand. I think that’s going to happen in the next two to three weeks, which is why we’re making 100,000 kits a week now, but our goal is to get to 150,000 kits a week by next week and the following weeks.”
Last month, Aria began providing drive-through testing for Carmel first responders and city employees who work with the public. Khan says the company is now providing similar testing for other communities, including Noblesville, Fishers, Boone County, Pike Township in Indianapolis, and Monticello, among others.
Khan says he’s not surprised to see so many private sector companies stepping up to help fight the pandemic. He says the American sense of ingenuity and entrepreneurship “blossoms” in the face of crisis.
“I feel like we’re back in an industrialist era with people not doing the jobs that they necessarily have been trained or previously did. We’re all in different roles but I love to see all these people going back to work and doing interesting things.”
Khan says the company decided to begin making test kits after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked for help from the private sector.
Khan says the American sense of ingenuity and entrepreneurship “blossoms” in the face of crisis.