Stemming the covid-19 tide: 3-D printers to the rescue

How Fathom – a portfolio company of CORE – pivoted during covid, and where it stands today.

In December, just before covid-19 stepped on the world stage, Fathom, a 3-D manufacturer-backed by CORE Industrial Partners, had already done a lot of upfront planning.

“Obviously there was going to be a big need in the market,” said Ryan Martin, CEO at Fathom, which made $40 million in revenue last year. “And the biggest reason we understood that is because of the pre-work.”

The pre-work involved a detailed playbook created with the help of its PE partner, CORE. That included over 150 different deliverables and actions that discussed how the company would handle exposure updates, employee data and more.

Fathom is part of PE Hub’s database of portfolio companies that are fighting covid-19 by overhauling operations to sustain, survive and, in some cases, thrive.

Pandemic journey

In the early covid months – when conversations around ventilator shortages had just begun – Fathom signed two large ventilator projects under the Defense Production Act. More publicly, the company got involved with MIT’s E-Vent Emergency Ventilator project and The AeroBreath Project. For the latter, Fathom 3-D printed all $100 AeroBreath prototypes.

More broadly, “we supported the manufacturing of 75,000 ventilators in less than six months,” Martin said.

To increase production and reduce time to market, Fathom then created a new multi-cavity tool to build covid test cartridges, which saw an incredible spike in demand. “Part of the benefit of our manufacturing is that you are able to scale really quickly.”

Similarly, as demands rose, Fathom’s digital manufacturers were producing 100,000 swabs per day, and separately, worked with Midwest manufacturers to roll out masks. “Our existing relationships and deep understanding of the [medical component space] also helped us,” Martin said.

However, the demand seen in the early covid days was not sustained.

“Some of the more traditional suppliers – like Honeywell – they were able to get their supply chains back up; it took them three to six months,” Martin said. In turn, Fathom transitioned back to its core processes of servicing clients in the industrial, auto, defense, aerospace and medical markets.

During the peak of the crisis, CORE managing partner John May said the PE firm offered resources and did a lot of contingency planning – the “What if?” scenarios.

John May, managing partner at CORE.

The Chicago-based PE firm closed five deals amid covid-19, including GPI Prototype & Manufacturing Services, an add-on to Fathom. GPI introduced new metal-additive machines and added customers to the platform.

Separately, the firm this morning announced a new platform investment in J&K Ingredients.

The PE firm declined to comment on whether Fathom conducted any layoffs in this year or had additional capital needs.

China insight

For Fathom, their first tête-à-tête with covid’s impact was the shutdown of its facility in China and the revenue dip that followed. “We saw the revenues rebound quickly after they were able safely return to work,” Martin clarified.

“We were able to re-shore orders [back to America] and in some cases we delayed the orders,” Martin said, referring to service requests made pre-pandemic.

Ultimately, recognition of the impact seen early on at Fathom’s facility in China helped CORE come up with a contingency plan.

“As it [virus] began to migrate to Europe and then the US, we decided to have a coordinated effort,” May said. This involved cleaning workstations, as well as creating communication channels to track employee movement inside and outside of work, given that manufacturers were deemed essential.

Looking ahead, CORE plans to conduct all operations from the home environment through the winter, allowing one person to come to the office each day. Employees in all of its seven portfolio companies, however, will have to turn up to work, with each business asserting its own covid safety policies.

For more of PE Hub’s coronavirus coverage, click here

Do you know a PE-backed company that pivoted its strategy to help fight the pandemic? PE Hub wants to hear from you. Send us your suggestions through the form below.  

Action Item: check out the full database of PE-backed companies that have pivoted operations amid covid-19. The information has been supplied by the PE firms, compiled and edited by PE Hub for clarity. 

Download the database here. 

NoNamePortfolio CompanyDoing what?
1Artemis Capital PartnersBioDotWorking 7 days a week to manufacture fluid dispensing systems for labs that assemble antibody or serological tests.
2Tecum Capital Partners and Validor CapitalBICOSteelworkers at BICO worked extra hours to help a supplier of ventilators ramp up production.
3Lincolnshire managementPowerhousePowerhouse now installs barriers that act as separators for retail workers. The company is also disinfecting spaces. Both these tasks are additions to its pre-covid businsses.
4MPK Equity PartnersRestoration 1Restoration 1 fixes fire, water and mold damage but is now providing disinfecting services - thanks to the PPE that it typically uses for its general services.
5Adjuvant CapitalCodagenixPartnered with the Serum Institute of India to rapidly co-develop a live-attenuated vaccine against the coronavirus.
6ArchiMedDiesse Diagnostica SeneseDeveloping a blood test for covid-19 detection.
7EQT / TA AssociatesAldevronAldevron's technology is being used in 30 different covid programs right now.
8Consonance CapitalBako DiagnosticsBako repurposed its technology expertise in PCR, developing and launching a covid-19 test in a matter of weeks. The company is also working on developing a serology test to develop antibodies, a proxy for covid immunity.
9Falfurrias Capital PartnersSauer Brands (Richmond Plant)The company has been making spices, seasonings and extracts for 133 years but got FDA approval to start making hand sanitizer. It’s strictly for employees and also local first responders in Richmond, to whom Sauer Brands is donating the sanitizer.
10Bain CapitalCanada GooseThe Canada Goose Response Program repurposed all eight Canadian manufacturing facilities and engaged 600 employees to work toward the goal of delivering 1.6 million pieces of medical grade PPE at cost to frontline healthcare workers across the country.
11Pine Island and Bain Capital and Compass PartnersPrecinmacThe Trimaster Division of Precinmac in Guelph, Ontario, is manufacturing over 800,000 units of a vital component in ventilators. The components are being distributed to key customers who have repurposed their facilities to ramp up production of these life-saving devices.
12Bain CapitalQuVaQuVa tripled the production of critical sedation, blood pressure support and anesthesia medications to aid the treatment of patients in ICU at over 1,500 hospitals across the US. The company is also reimbursing all childcare expenses for dedicated staff who are working to produce these high-demand pharmaceuticals.
13Bain CapitalApex Tool GroupApex Tool Group’s industrial designers used 3-D printing to make hundreds of face shields for healthcare heroes and distributed them via community partners.
14Bain CapitalMichael'sMichael's donated $1 million worth of fabric – enough to make about 750,000 pieces – to organizations making protective masks for first responders, hospitals and essential workers.
15Bain CapitalDynavaxDynavax is developing CpG 1018 as a broad vaccine adjuvant platform. With that as the goal, the company has embarked on a strategy to establish multiple research collaborations aimed at demonstrating the capability of CpG 1018 to enhance the immune response to a variety of vaccine antigens.
16Bain CapitalVarsity BrandsVarsity Brands adapted its graduation-cap-and-gown manufacturing facilities to quickly deliver critical personal protective equipment (PPE) to essential business customers globally.
17Bain CapitalAffinavixAffinivax is supporting the development of next-generation vaccines by accelerating the use of its patented Multiple Antigen Presenting System (MAPS) technology, which enables high-affinity binding of polysaccharides and proteins to uniquely induce a broad and protective B- and T-cell immune response to vaccines.
18Bain CapitalRent the RunwayRent the Runway repurposed its garment repairs team and local NYC factory partners to produce 80,000+ washable and reusable non-medical face masks for the general public.
19Bain CapitalDiverseyDiversey increased product supply by 8x to meet the unprecedented surge in demand for disinfectants and sanitizers.
20Bain CapitalHealthDriveHealthDrive’s behavioral health providers volunteered to facilitate a telehealth therapy service to any partner, provider or staff member at the company, ensuring that mental health is a priority.
21Bain CapitalHomebaseHomebase is providing healthcare teams with premium time tracking and scheduling software for free for three months. Healthcare teams at covid-19 screening centers and response centers are using Homebase.
22Bain CapitalCloud GuruCloud Guru has launched a program to provide 1,000 individuals who have lost employment due to covid-19 with a free one-year subscription to its cloud skills education program.
23Bain CapitalIQVIAThe company launched the covid Active Research Experience (CARE) Project, an information-gathering portal, which to date has produced more than 50 reports to help inform the scientific community and the greater community at large about disease prevalence, symptom progression and treatment outcomes.
24Bain CapitalCentralSquareProvided select software products such as online citizen reporting tools free of charge to public safety agencies to assist with emergency response throughout the pandemic.
25Bain Capital (and other investors RA Capital Management, Perceptive Advisors, Rock Springs Capital, Adage Capital Management, T. Rowe Price, Redmile Group and Omega Funds)Atea PharmaceuticalsAtea is developing a drug for treatment of adult patients hospitalized with moderate covid-19 with one or more risk factors
26ApolloCareerBuilderCareerBuilder has launched a Crisis Support Center to help impacted Americans find jobs.
27ApolloTegraTypically known for developing sports and athletic apparel, Tegra has reprioritized operations and is pivoting its manufacturing to make face masks amid the ongoing spread of covid-19.
28ApolloUniversity of PhoenixUniversity of Phoenix is offering free, credit-bearing online courses and “tool kits” for k-12 teachers who are adapting to online learning environments.
29ApolloMcGraw Hill EducationMcGraw Hill Education is offering free access to online higher-ed coursework and training professors and students to digital learning platforms and is providing free K-12 digital products and access to ALEKs learning platform.
30ApolloIntradoIntrado has partnered with Cisco to provide free virtual learning software and services for K-12 schools in the US.
31Compass Diversified HoldingsSternoSterno shifted its priorities at two of its plants. Rather than producing insulated food bags and ethanol chafing fuel, they are now producing cotton masks and hand sanitizer.
32BlackstoneSERVPROEmployees at SERVPRO, a cleanup and restoration company, have been involved in a number of relief efforts. These include assembling care packages for US Army personnel deployed to New York City to build a covid-19 hospital, providing meals to US Army Fort Campbell Troops managing the Jacob Javits Medical Center, and franchises across the country. They are answering requests for first responder vehicle cleanings at no charge.
33BlackstoneBridger AerospaceBridger Aerospace provided its aerial transportation resources to airlift emergency supplies and deliver blood drive services to treat patients in Bozeman, Montana, hospitals.
34BlackstoneSema4Sema4 is joining the fight against covid-19 by offering rapid testing to support healthcare providers in Connecticut and New York.
35L CattertonClassPassClassPass has launched a new feature that enables fitness and wellness providers to offer live-streamed classes, sessions and appointments through the ClassPass app and website. The company will donate 100% of the proceeds from these purchases through June 1, 2020 directly to its partners who are unable to host in-person classes and appointments due to covid-19.
36Veritas CapitalAthenahealthDeveloped new interactive covid-19 dashboard, to be used by covid-19 Healtchare coalition and Athenahealth customers. Dashboard tracks lab test orders and identifies concentrations of high-risk patients, via data from its providers across 50 states and 100 million patients. Also, launched 24-hour incident response team to stay in sync with the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization.
37Veritas CapitalCotivitiLaunched publicly available outbreak tracker which identifies future geographic areas that may see heightened infection outbreaks, helping the healthcare industry shift its response from reactive to proactive.
38Veritas CapitalOnSolveOnSolve, a provider of SaaS-based mass notification, put together a crisis communication kit for covid-19, offering best practices for communicating sample coronavirus message templates and ways to manage employee expectations.
39Veritas CapitalCambiumCambium now provides free access to K-12 curriculum organizations to support educational challenges created out of covid-19.
40Cerberus CapitalKellermeyer Bergensons ServicesKBS, a provider of commercial contract cleaning, has leased its own trucks to move necessary chemicals and PPE directly from its manufacturer to its warehouse, and redirected its hospitality staff to work on coronavirus cleanup instead.
41Cerberus CapitalABC TechnologiesABC, an automotive supplier, is developing ventilator components to support production efforts in the United States and Canada. It started shipments of components within just three weeks. It has also been working with several organizations and companies to produce face masks and protective face shields.
42Cerberus CapitalAlbertsons CompaniesAlbertsons, the second-largest supermarket chain in North America partnered with major hospitality businesses to provide part-time jobs to furloughed employees. Partners include Hilton, Marriott International, MGM Resorts. Like other supermarkets it has been working around the clock to keep products on shelves and keep stores clean and open.
43Great Hill PartnersCustomInkCustomInk, the online custom apparel retailer, quickly pivoted and repurposed their manufacturing so they could provide desperately needed face masks at bulk rates.
44Advantech Capital and Vivo CapitalSinovac R&DSinovac Biotech, a leading provider of biopharmaceutical products in China, is developing an inactivated vaccine against covid-19 named CoronaVac. The Phase II clinical trial commenced in May.
45Sole Source CapitalSupply Chain ServicesSCS produced large amounts of RFID labels for coronavirus testing devices. The Medical Contract Manufacturer reached out in early March when the spread of the virus worsened and the need for tests grew exponentially. These labels are important for medical professionals to accurately track patient tests and keep accurate data. Unfortunately the inlays the manufacturer uses for orders are sourced out of China and were not going to be filled until July. SCS also helped the manufacturer by reaching out to their inlay suppliers and pulled together to locate the wet inlays needed. SCS also helped a grocery store to do online ordering and store pickup similar to Instacart by creating a hardware kit. The combination of a handheld scanner and mobile printer let the grocery employees fulfill online orders without going through the high-traffic checkout lanes.
46Eurazeo BrandsThe Bandier teamThe activewear company is keeping its community connected with daily, virtual at-home exercise sessions,
47Eurazeo BrandsNESTThe manufacturer and marketer of luxury fragrances is working to develop antibacterial products for consumers.
48Edison PartnersSuuchiA supply-chain management software provider for the clothing manufacturing industry converted to making masks and PPE.
49Blackford CapitalMopecScaled production and started creating CDC-compliant body bags. It developed Guardian Racks, which is a collapsible morgue storage rack system. This was created in response to the wooden shelves being built in New York to hold bodies in refrigerated trailers.
50Clinical InkNovaQuestClinical Ink helped expedite the study of a treatment for "cytokine storm," the immunological reaction associated with severe cases of covid-19.
51Tritium PartnersRVShareThe peer-to-peer RV rentals in the US has seen a massive growth in bookings due to the pandemic as domestic family trips have become the dominant form of travel.
52New Mountain Capital Zep Inc.The cleaning company's sales were trending down until covid but now they are scrambling to meet demand. They have some retail business, but the bulk is heavy duty cleaning chemicals for industrial (mfg,automotive), F&B (meat/dairy processing plants) and institutional (hospitals, schools), so will likely see sustained growth in post-COVID world.
53VSSCoretelligent The managed IT services firm witnessed an increase in demand from clients – many of whom, new to the virtual environment, required more than the day-to-day IT support services. The company migrated its onsite field team to meet this demand.
54CORE Industrial PartnersFathomIn the early covid months – when conversations around ventilator shortages had just begun – Fathom, a 3-D printing company signed two large ventilator projects under the Defense Production Act. To increase production and reduce time to market, Fathom also created a new multi-cavity tool to build covid test cartridges, which saw an incredible spike in demand.