Punk Rock HR Episode 127:
Today’s guests are Robert Williams and Brian Baucom. They are the co-founders of a company called 4 Oaks Ventures. The team at 4 Oaks provides quality PPE and COVID-19 testing to employees and industries all over America.
Robert and Brian are my neighbors in this community. They’re my friends. However, I also brought them onto the show to advise them on how to talk and work with HR departments to make clear the importance of quality PPE and COVID-19 testing and cut through the noise.
We’re talking about the real issues behind the challenges of finding a PPE that’s not counterfeit or just disgusting and finding COVID-19 testing and strategies that really work. If you work in human resources, logistics, or marketing and you need to go back to work in an office at some point, this episode will be very helpful for you. Tune in for an informative and incredible conversation with Robert and Brian.
In this episode you’ll hear:
- The impetus behind Robert and Brian co-founding 4 Oaks.
- Why they thought they could help when so many other organizations didn’t.
- What the early days of the pandemic were like for them.
- What Robert saw in the PPE testing market in April and where it is now.
- Their particular area of response to COVID-19 and what they are providing.
- COVID-19 testing and what it means for returning to work.
- How their door to door service differentiates them in the marketplace.
- What their interactions with multiple constituencies within organizations have been like.
- What pool testing is.
WHAT DID ROBERT SEE IN THE PPE TESTING MARKET IN APRIL AND WHERE IS IT NOW?
In April, there was an abnormally large order of gloves out of Southeast Asia and an independent third party provided the validation of these gloves. With this order, the buyer happened to pay extra for them to do extra validation. In doing so, that third party discovered subpart products with blood and rodent hair in the gloves. They ended up having to scrap the entire order. As a result, the buyer started searching for a new source. Luckily, they found 4 Oaks and they were able to help them.
WHAT DOES COVID-19 TESTING MEAN FOR RETURNING TO WORK?
There are two kinds of testing. There’s testing that identifies whether or not you had COVID-19 in the past and there’s testing that identifies whether or not you have it now. There are Killer T cells that are really hard to identify, but that produce antibodies. Those antibodies hang out in the body for a while and can be identified pretty rapidly. However, the Killer T cells have the blueprint that can remake the antibodies and that’s what helps fight infection. There are a lot of antibody tests in the market, some of which are pretty rapid. The problem is that we can’t know how effective or accurate they actually are. Besides antibody testing, there are many major categories of the other type of testing to identify whether or not you have COVID-19. However, the most reliable is the molecular test. No one knew how to do these at first, so the CDC got overwhelmed. 4 Oaks, though, has been able to expand their capacity to maintain a 24 to 48 hour result turnaround time. They’ve been helping institutions that require high volumes of testing by assuring them that their population doesn’t have it, or if they do, that they can do quick contact tracing and narrow down the number of individuals that could be exposed.
WHAT IS POOL TESTING AND ARE COMPANIES DOING IT?
Early on, a lot of labs jumped into the testing space. A lot of people were scrambling to run tests on a disease that nobody had ever seen before with new machines and scarce materials. After a while, things started working themselves out, but there still weren’t enough materials to meet the need. Pool testing came onto the scene to meet this high demand. Now, labs can test multiple people in one vial. If it comes back negative, they know everyone is negative. The only downside is that if it comes back positive, they have to go back and test all of the people individually. This work is expanding and improving every day.
IF I WANT TO WORK AT 4 OAKS, HOW WOULD LIKE THAT?
They like to get face to face with their clients on Zoom and then ask them what their needs are. They would ask you, “How can we help fulfill your needs or even direct them towards something you weren’t thinking about?” They would talk through how many employees you have and other particulars of your organization. Then, they would make sure that you’re on the schedule for testing.
Resources from this episode: