Letters

Letters 04-25-2016

Taking Our Trees Seconds ago this pine tree was alive. Well, Mr. Cook — our County Road Commission head —and Peninsula Township government … by not weighing in (I guess it’s not your problem or responsibility to communicate with residents), you allowed the County Road Commission to bulldoze down huge swaths of lakeside trees in order to increase the bike lane. This can’t be happening. I have no clue why they would cut trees down that help block snow from creating drifts on Peninsula Drive and help keep the beach area intact. Plus, they are not increasing the width of the road when they repave. I just don’t get it. This is amateur hour at county and township government...

Government Service Unrewarded I served the federal government for XX years with the [agency], [doing XX]. I also worked in the private sector, [doing XX]. When I retired, I was surprised to learn my Social Security benefit would be $XXX less per month than my colleagues and neighbors who had never worked for the federal government. This is all because of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) under the Social Security law...

Which Greased Palm Now that “Chicago values” have utterly corrupted the executive and judicial branches of our federal government, this November We the Plebeians shall either vote to right the governing integrity of the United States constitution’s twin pillars of limited government and separation of powers or turn and step collectively onto the blood soaked road to serfdom...

The Political Mess And Challenge As citizens we are faced with a real challenge. The media and the political candidates have taken over a year to attack those whom they are opposing. The unfavorable ratings of those who may be nominated are above 50 percent. That should be no surprise, considering the length of time given to bloodying one another with opinions that have little relationship to truth. The polling companies, which confess they are not reliable, make everything a game of winning...

CORRECTIONS In last week’s issue we had photos with the incorrect stories on page five. The dance photo should have accompanied the story about grants to nonprofits. The image of Crooked Tree Arts Center Petoskey should have accompanied the story about the ArtPrize exhibit at CTAC.

We also reported the incorrect day for the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City. The correct date is Sat., May 28.

We apologize for these errors.

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.”

EARLY DAYS
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.”

2,000 HOSPITALS
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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