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Pivoting during the pandemic: the elements of success

L- R Charles Beaumont Matthew Will Martin Quinn

It was March 2020. The rapid and unabated spread of the coronavirus had everyone on edge and sales of hand sanitiser were surging worldwide.

University of Tasmania alumni and Launceston pharmacists Martin Quinn (B Pharm 1991) and Matthew Will (B Pharm 2004) heard that Tasmanian health services were struggling to source adequate supplies of hand sanitiser.

The pair, who were old family friends who had owned and operated Kings Meadows Capital Chemist for more than two decades, felt compelled to offer their services.

They both had expertise in pharmacy oncology manufacture and delivery, which meant they not only knew how to dispense medication, but how to make it.

Matthew played a key role in establishing Tasmania’s first privately run pharmacy sterile clean room, which involved supplying medicines and treatments such as chemotherapies to patients on a nationwide scale.

Whilst Martin, who has extensive pharmacy experience in Australia and overseas, set up one of the first ‘Advanced Care Pharmacies’ in Australia.

“When we heard that hospitals and other organisations were running low on hand sanitiser, we approached the health department and offered to assist them with their supply constraints” Matthew said.

“It turns out that they wanted a heck of a lot of hand sanitiser, which was beyond what we could make on a small scale, so we contacted someone we knew at Tasmanian Alkaloids to see if they could contract manufacture it on our behalf. It’s a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved facility, so we knew it would be the highest quality, and adhere to the standards required for use in medical facilities”

In fulfilling the health service’s requirements, and seeing increased demand from other new clients, the pair realised that the most efficient way to proceed was to set up a business.

Keen to source as many products locally as possible to support the Tasmanian economy, they even managed to secure their bottles from a manufacturer in the Huon Valley, but then, they hit a stumbling block.

“We couldn’t secure pump caps for the top of the bottles in Australia, so we contacted a good friend who is also a University of Tasmania alumnus who I went to Christ College with.”

Charles Beaumont (BSc 2001) is the owner and director of The Importer, a well-known family-owned Tasmanian company.

He used his considerable experience in international trade negotiations and supply chains to source the pump caps from China.

This feat was achieved at a time when supply chains and logistics were being thrown into disarray.

“It was at that point, in mid-March, we thought that we should start a business to supply the health services and then we thought we should see if anyone else needed it,” Matthew said.

“Honestly, at that point in time, we thought it might last a month, but here we are now, it’s nearly November and it isn’t showing any sign of waning anytime soon.”

Before they knew it, they were supplying the Spirit of Tasmania, education facilities, sports clubs, not-for-profits and even their own alma mater- the University of Tasmania.

M2 Logistics, the company founded by the trio now coordinates the manufacture and supply of Tasmanian Hand Sanitiser, a pharmaceutical grade product containing 80 per cent ethanol, around Australia.

Since March 2020, the team have co-ordinated manufacture and distribution of over 60,000L of pharmaceutical grade hand sanitiser. It has since branched out into cleaning, personal protective equipment and sanitation products.

Many companies and individuals began making hand sanitiser during the global pandemic to fill the market gap, but Matthew explains that unlike many other products, their hand sanitiser adheres strictly to the World Health Organisation (WHO) formulation guidelines, which has been approved for use during the pandemic by a special TGA determination.

“When your product is going into hospitals, you need to know it’s the highest quality- medical grade and made in a TGA-approved facility.”

The name and branding of their products is deliberately and unashamedly Tasmanian and inspired by the recently released Brand Tasmania wordmark along with marketing material which includes imagery, depicting rainforests and rugged landscapes.

“Everything in this product is from Tasmania, except the pump caps which we cannot change at this stage, and we are proud of that and it just goes to show that here in Tassie, we can do just about anything we put our minds to.”

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Published on: 12 Nov 2020 9:58am