COVID-19 was a test like no other for global businesses. Some failed. But many others persevered, adapted – and thrived.
In the midst of it all, the Center for Global Business (CGB) at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business organized Maryland Business Adapts to celebrate five Maryland-based exporting companies for their resilience in the pandemic.
This virtual networking and learning event in 2021 included special guests Ben Cardin, U.S. senator for Maryland, and Kelly Schulz, Maryland state secretary of commerce, and Anthony Roche, McCormick vice president for Human Resources – Global Functions.
Now, with the pandemic still disrupting global trade, CGB is organizing a second annual event, aimed at recognizing even more Maryland businesses who have found ways to adapt – and who are willing to share those discoveries with others.
The Maryland Business Adapts 21/22 initiative celebrates the adjustments that Maryland’s small exporters companies made during the pandemic, while providing insights for peers on topics like minimizing business risk of their global operations or preparation for sudden operational changes.
“Even during turbulent times, Maryland’s small export businesses have demonstrated remarkable resilience. They understand how to respond rapidly to volatile conditions and how to manage international risk,” says Rebecca Bellinger, executive director of the Center for Global Business. “We’re inviting them to share their insights and their stories, so that their stories can serve as valuable lessons for other companies – and for our students as they progress into global careers.”
This year’s event will take place in Baltimore on June 3 and will celebrate the following companies:
Amethyst Technologies: The technical services company is a prime contractor to the U.S. Army, USAID, CDC, NIH, FDA, and Department of State working in Africa, the Middle East and the United States. It works in global health, diagnostics, research and vaccine manufacturing. Early in the pandemic, Amethyst established a clinical laboratory in Frostburg, Md., initially performing 25 COVID-19 tests per day, and quickly grew. It now performs 4,000 clinical laboratory tests per day, including molecular testing, chemistry, immuno assays, toxicology, and hematology in addition to SARS-CoV-2 testing.
ClearMask: The ClearMask team designed the world’s first and only FDA-cleared and CE-marked transparent surgical mask. They have sold over 18 million masks worldwide since April 2020. Their transparent masks are an equitable, accessible, and safe alternative to traditional masks that improve human connection while providing assured protection. In a 2021 JAMA Surgery study, 100% of patients preferred the ClearMask™ over traditional masks and providers who wore the ClearMask™ were perceived as better communicators, having more empathy and eliciting greater trust. The team is proud to improve communication by bringing the ClearMask™ to hospitals, schools, national and local governments, and businesses all over the globe.
Coherent Technical Services: CTSi needed to integrate new capability into an aircraft platform in Canada, and that meant sending a team of six to Canada for a period of weeks. But with COVID-era restrictions, the team couldn’t cross the border. To stay on schedule, the firm needed a way to communicate with the aircraft, test its systems, and install updated software – remotely. So, it built the Mobile Test Cart (MTC), a support tool that helps with deployment and maintenance of a CTSi developed mission system onboard multiple aircraft platforms. The MTC provides all the tools necessary for both onsite and remote-located engineers to perform installation verification and functional checkout of the mission system, system troubleshooting, and periodic maintenance, including software updates.
Orbis Technologies: Pandemic effects hit Orbis Technologies hard. Between March and September of 2020, over 20% of its staff quit and 20% of its client projects were canceled. Its revenue fell $4M from 2019 to 2020. The company was forced to reimagine its value proposition to its clients and employees. The company pivoted from being just a software company to providing a complete collection of software and services, becoming a full-service content management company. The impact was immediate – the firm acquired two strategically important small businesses in less than 10 months and achieved revenue that surpassed pre-pandemic levels by 2021. It expanded its client base to 400 clients in 37 countries in 2021, from 90 clients in 12 countries in 2020. Its staff grew over the year as well, to 150 from the previous 90.
WSC: The company provides technology products and services that simulate the components and systems found in power and process plants. Building these replica simulators used for training and engineering requires a fair amount of in-person design, development and testing. Restrictions on travel and social distancing meant that mission-critical projects required alternate approaches to retain schedule commitments. Projects were performed respecting international quarantine periods, and some of the projects shifted to the use of a single customer representative working in isolation in the WSC facility while a supporting engineering team worked off-site via web-enabled technology. Although some projects were delayed in testing and delivery, the firm says its focus on advancing web-based and cloud simulation technology and its commitment to customer service, overall positioned it well for long-term growth.
During the event, the companies will be further recognized with an award from the center and an opportunity to share in-depth their strategies and takeaways. And their insights will continue to inform and instruct others beyond the roundtable talk. The center will produce open-source case studies for classroom use that highlight these companies’ practices during the pandemic.
“This is a great opportunity for companies to participate in a collaborative process where people can share ideas and be celebrated for their innovative strategies,” Bellinger says.
She says she hopes this Adapts event marks the start of a new yearly collaboration.
“Every year there are going to be trends, events and challenges that companies have to adapt to,” says Bellinger. “This initiative can help bring people and companies together to share some of the best strategies to move forward.”
Key partners of the initiative include the U.S. Commercial Service Baltimore, the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Maryland/DC District Export Council.
To find out more information about Maryland Business Adapts 21/22 and register to attend visit the event webpage.
This event is supported in part by CIBE, a Title VI grant administered by the U.S. Department of Education.
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.