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Some Local Businesses Succeed Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns swept the nation, small businesses bore the full brunt of shutdowns. Many closed their doors for good and most were barely able to make ends meet. Yet, some were able to thrive. Fuel Medical Group and Madden Industrial Craftsmen are two businesses who ended up seeing record-breaking quarters and insatiable demand according to the owners during Clark’s Employer Panel on Apr. 28.

United States Air Force veteran Sarah Laughlin worked for Clark’s Veteran’s Center before going on to become the owner of Fuel Medical Group. Based in Camas, the group provides consulting services to various physicians and clinics across the United States, doing everything necessary to build a small business: web services, software, recruiting, marking and beyond. 

The first two months of the lockdown brought no sales due to medical practices being closed. Afterwards, demand spiked. 

“It came back with vengeance,” Laughlin said. “We just finished the quarter the strongest we ever had, and with the most clients we ever had.”

Laughlin attributed this overnight increase not only to pent-up demand on the medical side, but to how her business pivoted to accommodate the new, virtual needs of medicine. Being a small business means not having to go through layers of departments to make changes and speed-to-market is crucial in time-sensitive scenarios.

“It’s done some wonders for our business that maybe we would not have seen if we did not have to address a crisis,” Laughlin said.

However, success is not limited to Fuel Medical Group nor the medical industry.

Madden Industrial Craftsmen, owned by Ken Madden, provides construction and manufacturing companies with employment opportunities from their skilled craftsmen.

Washington still has a booming construction market and the demand for workers in both construction and manufacturing is very high, said Madden. The main reason for an increased demand is that workers are slow to return to the market, he said.

The reasons that workers are hesitant vary, but commonly are attributed to family healthcare issues or childcare needs. Madden said that this shortage has turned the construction market into a seller’s market – where workers hold all the cards for employment.

“We’ve been in business for 33 years, and I have never seen this kind of growth right now,” Madden said. “We’re seeing a tremendous amount of orders for people.” 

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