Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Lab Test
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Lab Test

Al Parker - July 27th, 2009
Lab Test
A Company that’s Proficient in Hard Times

By Al Parker 7/27/09

At a time when pink slips are almost as common as cherry trees across Northern Michigan, one Traverse City company has been adding workers.
“We’re adding tech people – that’s where our industry is headed,” explains Dan Edson, co-founder of American Proficiency Institute, created almost two decades ago to serve the laboratory industry.
API now serves more than 15,000 clients. It’s the second largest lab testing company in the world, according to Edson, who knows a little about pink slips.
He received one himself in 1990 when his employer, the CAP Computer Center, relocated to Illinois. Edson and co-worker Leith Butler didn’t see CAP’s move as a career setback, but instead saw an opportunity to create their own company.
“We love Northern Michigan and wanted to stay here, so we established our company to check the accuracy of laboratory tests at hospitals across the nation,” explains Edson, a medical technologist with a microbiology degree from Michigan State University. “We test the testers.”

Edson, whose graduate work involved developing the world’s first blood test for Legionnaire’s Disease, provided the firm’s scientific background, while Butler’s computer expertise helped transform API into an industry leader which now serves labs across the U.S. and in two dozen countries around the world.
Launched in 1991, API grew slowly with Edson and Butler as its only employees for about two years. Now the firm employs 32 workers and is the largest shipping customer in Northern Michigan. In the last year the company expanded its headquarters from 12,000 to 16,000 square feet.
The company’s big break came in 1994 when federal legislation required all physician offices and clinics to subscribe to a proficiency testing service. Until then, only hospital labs had been required to undergo the tests which confirm the accuracy of lab tests.
“Our client list grew from about 800 labs in 1993 to more than 5,000 in 1994 and our staff grew to 12 people,” recalls Edson.
At about the same time, API hit upon a novel way to explain their services to physicians.
“I was out for a morning bicycle ride with friends, including Drs. John Van Dalson and Bill Smith,” recalls Edson. “When I asked them how they decided what products to buy, they told me about their sales rep who had served them for 14 years. I met with their rep and he explained the role of a medical supply distributor to us.”

1,000 REPS
The result is that API now has more than 1,000 sales reps marketing their services to physicians across the country. “That really showed me the importance of relationships in business,” says Edson, who received MSU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004, the highest recognition given to the university’s grads.
Closer to home, Edson serves as board president of the Traverse Health Clinic, which provides free medical and dental care to the uninsured of the Grand Traverse region through collaborations with volunteer physicians, nurses, dentists and support staff.
Edson gives a lot of credit to the API staff for the company’s success.
“We pay our customer service staff more than others typically would, provide full benefits for their entire family, train them on our computer system, articulate the company vision, then allow them to grow to professional levels they might not have thought possible,” he explains.
The entire API staff, including tech support and the sales team, has great latitude in handling customers, but even then situations arise that require special handling.
“Three years ago one of our larger customers – a group of labs in Minneapolis – was dissatisfied with things that seemed minor to us, but, in fact, were very important to them,” recalls Edson. “I flew over and back in the same day to speak with their decision makers. After listening carefully for an hour, I told them how we would address each concern.
“But then I told them about an excerpt of a book, Built to Last, where the authors state ‘It’s not what you make, it’s what you stand for, and how API stood for a quality product at a fair price. That group renewed their orders the next week and now are one of our staunchest supporters.”

API provides lab testing services to about 2,000 hospitals across the country. Recently the firm sealed a deal with Hospital Corporation of America, the nation’s largest hospital chain, which operates 163 hospitals and 113 outpatient centers across the country. Other well-known clients include the Scripps Clinic, University of Michigan and University of Nebraska.
“The (hospital) systems have been a big part of our recent growth,” says Edson. “We listened to their needs and developed special computer software that saves them time in overseeing multiple labs. Our newest feature allows laboratories not only to enter results over the Internet, but also review performance reports, statistical data and get free continuing education credits. Once again, we’re the first company in our industry to offer this level of service.”
In the wake of incidents involving tainted food products, API has expanded its expertise to include foodstuffs. “Food companies have their own labs to make sure that no dangerous pathogens get into their products,” explains Edson. “We test their labs to ensure accuracy in their testing. We just signed a deal with a company to promote our food testing program in 100 countries.”
While some companies in the food industry have done in-house testing, API was the first independent firm to provide proficiency testing for the industry. The company now has some 500 labs enrolled in its food program.
The Traverse City firm’s food microbiology proficiency testing program is the largest program of its kind available in the U.S. with more than 400 labs participating, including companies such as Hershey’s, Tyson Foods, Gold Kist, and General Mills.

Located at 1159 Business Park Drive in Traverse City, American Proficiency Institute is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call (231) 941-5887 or go to www.api-pt.com.

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