Bay Area company profits from H1N1 supply demand

December 9, 2009 7:47:33 PM PST
Nearly 9,000 people have died worldwide from the H1N1 virus. For one Bay Area company, the grim reality of swine flu has turned its business model into a success.

Blake White started Accu-Logistics 10 years ago. He and his partners have 40,000 square feet of warehouse space in San Leandro. It is a distribution and assembly center, shipping virtually every product you can imagine from paper plates to holiday gifts.

The items really moving these days are everything needed to fight the H1N1 flu.

"Right now gloves, masks, hand sanitizers and anything else in the health and safety markets," White said.

It started with an order in August for 10.5 million surgical masks. The entrepreneurs took equity out of their own homes and personally visited their manufacturing contacts in China to make it happen.

"We had a lot of money out there on these deals and we had to make sure they went smoothly and we also knew they would provide more opportunity should we execute properly so we went out there and followed it every step of the way," Accu-Logistics partner David Cohen said.

The execution worked and in this recession, Accu-Logistics has gone from cutting workers hours to keeping 20 people employed full-time.

"We know it's a stressful time for a lot of people and we're just grateful we have a place to come and be busy every day," Accu-Logistics employee Mike Kelley said.

Even in the time ABC7 was there doing this story, another huge order came in -- a request for 2.8 million masks tied to grant money that must be spent by December 31.

That call had White and his buddies working the phones again, scrambling to get and ship what is quickly becoming a profitable niche -- products for emergency preparedness.

"This really woke us up and we're really putting every resource we have into this area for growth in 2010 and beyond," White said.

No one would say the H1N1 virus is good, but for some, protecting against it is good for business.


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