For Travis Lenander, CEO of Florida-based CO2Meter, 2020 has been a year of opportunities, both for growth and progress improvement.
Working around the clock to serve both its customers in the medical sector the food and beverage industry during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and the CO2 Shortage, it’s certainly been a challenging year for the company.
These are just some of the topics that Lenander spoke to gasworld about in the final instalment of our A Christmas Twist: The 12 Days of Content series.
gasworld (GW): What has 2020 been like for CO2Meter?
Travis Lenander (TL): 2020 was both a challenging and rewarding year for our business. Challenging for the same reasons as all businesses. But it was rewarding for us as well. Several years ago, we made some strategic changes to our R&D and product development to allow the business to move into and capture new markets. We have started to reap the rewards of those strategic direction changes now and it has allowed us to accelerate the business.
Additionally, we were deemed as “essential” by some of our customers in the medical and laboratory communities which provided some valuable recognition to a broader cross section of these markets too. And in such a challenging year, I think it speaks volumes about the positive potential of our business that we needed to hire new employees to account for our continued growth.
GW: Looking back over the year, what are the standout moments for the company? Why are these moments so significant to you?
TL: Our team looked at 2020 as a year of opportunities – both for growth and process improvement. One standout moment for CO2Meter was being featured on a televised series, “Information Matrix” hosted by Laurence Fishburne. Our episode, about to be aired, focuses on new and emerging markets, and offers in depth education into these areas. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss the importance of providing gas detection and analytical solutions across multiple industries.
Additionally, our continued position as the most reliable and trusted “leading source” in gas detection has allowed us to welcome new partners and customers across the globe. We also took the time in 2020 to evaluate our current business processes and to plan and make improvements across the business to better position us for continued growth in the future. Because we have been growing so rapidly it was a great moment to focus on some of the continuing improvement practices that we have wanted to tackle. The biggest standout moment for me was how our employees stepped up to ensure the success of business through difficult times. We always talk about our employees being the backbone of our success and 2020 proved that again.
GW: Can you tell us about some major projects CO2 Meter have been involved in this year?
TL: Our continued product development is something that sets us apart in terms of continual advancements in current and new markets. Our push over the last decade to design and manufacture new devices, like our CM-1000 GasLab® Pro Multi Gas Sampling Data Logger, has allowed us to identify and capture business in new markets. That product push is bolstered by our marketing teams’ diligence in producing a wide range of educational trainings, resources, eBooks, and whitepapers which all aided in informing, educating, and reinforcing for our customers that CO2Meter is the partner of choice for the future.
GW: Of course, the CO2 shortage was a big talking point in 2020 throughout US. Can you tell us about how CO2 Meter was affected during the height of the shortage and how it dealt changes in the industry?
TL: The shortage did not affect CO2Meter directly as we do not supply CO2 but some of our partners were certainly impacted in a variety of ways. Our team takes our role as a “partner” seriously and worked with critical customers to help identify solutions for shortages. The best example is our work to help the team at Lagunitas Brewing Company secure additional CO2 volume to continue brewing operations. Our time and effort did not affect our business directly although it earned us the respect and future business of our brewing partner, the independent gas suppliers we connected them with, and all their colleagues too. Getting paid in beer was not an option, unfortunately.
GW: Coronavirus was another major subject in 2020. Can you tell us how CO2 Meter assisted during the pandemic and continued its operations in such tough times?
TL: CO2Meter was honoured to have been deemed essential by several of our long-term partners in the development and production of medical and laboratory devices and equipment. In addition to our existing business, our operations team was busy creating the assemblies these customers required for their medical and laboratory devices. Customers did not see a change in the level of support, service, or in the quality of our devices over the last 60 days and we are extremely proud of our team’s dedication to quality and excellence in every product we manufacture.
We also received a massive influx in requests for sensors and design information for people wanting to build a new ventilator. Our requests for CO2 and O2 sensors skyrocketed in Q2.
Additionally, our team partnered with a national pharmacy chain to keep their customers and employees safe from the potential hazardous effects for CO2 exposure from the dry ice that is keeping the COVID-19 vaccines cold. The chain needed more than 800 safety monitors to be distributed to the first vaccine administration facilities on short notice. Our team was able to provide the chain with a CO2 safety monitor that is easy to install and that will detect the gas even at very low levels.
Our business felt the effects our interconnected economies and daily lives like everyone else. While we never shutdown or had to lay off any employees we took steps to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the business by staggering shifts, working from home, limiting access to our facilities, and still wearing masks to ensure the resilience of our business and the safety of our employees. We also felt the positive effects of increase demand for safety and analytical devices in laboratories, medical facilities, and scientific research as some of our new devices fit these niche markets perfectly.
GW: What’s been the most exciting application or growth driver for industrial gases this year?
TL: While not a new application, the increased focus on dry ice production and safety, even given the CO2 supply issues, is top of mind currently. We also see a renewed focus on analytical and safety needs in the laboratory, medical, scientific, animal health, and the cannabis markets as well. The latter is particularly interesting as several more states took steps to legalize medical or recreational marijuana at the 2020 ballot box.
We also continue to see a focus by local and state officials to enforce regulations around the safe storage and handling of carbon dioxide in a multitude of applications include beverage dispensing.
GW: Can you tell us about any exciting projects CO2 Meter has lined up for 2021?
TL: 2020 saw the release of two flagship products for CO2Meter: the CM-1000 GasLab® Pro Multi Gas Sampling Data Logger, and the CM-7000 Multi Sensor CO2 Safety Monitoring System. We will continue to expand the scope of both devices with new sensors and a broadening of both devise scope of operation. One extremely exciting new push in 2021 will be the release of a new line of refrigerant and flammable gas sensors and devices. We are also releasing a slate of new sensors and several new market specific devices for welding, agriculture, indoor air quality, storage, and safety.
GW: Finally, in the spirit of the time of year and theme of the series, if you could have one industrial gases related thing for Christmas, what would it be and why?
TL: Our primary focus for the 2020 holiday season is for the health and safety of our customers, partners, friends, family, and co-workers.
And if we could choose a holiday treat for your readers it would be for everyone to have our newest IAQMini CO2 Monitor. It is suited for almost anyone who is interested in indoor air quality. The increased focus on proper ventilation for IAQ to mitigate the spread of potential air-borne viruses like COVID-19 as well as cold and flu has been incredible. We want everyone to stay healthy and safe. And, as an added bonus – the IAQMini fits perfectly in a stocking!