30 years of giving—Part 2

Child's hand holding the top to a baby bottle

During this, the 30th year of IDEXX, we take a moment to reflect on how the company's Purpose and Guiding Principles have helped guide our efforts to help people in need and contribute to communities around the world.

Responding rapidly to crises affecting the food chain and food products

In 2001, IDEXX developed a test for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease. The emergence of BSE and its association with a deadly human disease called for a rapid solution. Researchers at IDEXX responded by developing a rapid postmortem test suited for precise, high-volume screening.

In 2003, an outbreak of avian influenza (AI) on 59 poultry farms in The Netherlands prompted a call from the Dutch government. They needed an order of IDEXX FlockChek Avian Influenza Antibody Tests that far surpassed what was in inventory at the time. “We have plans in place for these types of scenarios,” says Andre Fuchs, Worldwide Commercial Operations senior director for IDEXX Livestock, Poultry and Dairy. Those plans ensured that there were enough tests manufactured to meet the need. Fuchs says that at IDEXX, “It’s all hands on deck to make sure that product is available so that food supplies are safe worldwide.”

In 2008, IDEXX raced to the aid of China when an estimated 300,000 people, many of them infants, fell victim to melamine poisoning in milk. Thanks to an unprecedented collaboration across continents, IDEXX developed the IDEXX SNAP Melamine Test in just 7 months. The product helped ensure the safety of milk and restored confidence in China’s dairy industry.

“While IDEXX cannot predict outbreaks, we do know that they will come,” says Fuchs. “Reacting to them rapidly and effectively is part of our culture.”

Ensuring the safety of water for people around the world

On May 12, 2008, the worst earthquake to hit China in more than 30 years devastated Wenchuan county, injuring nearly 375,000 people and causing 69,000 deaths. IDEXX immediately committed to help reestablish the safety of drinking water within the disaster area, donating thousands of IDEXX Colilert microbiology tests. And IDEXX employees were in the disaster zone working with China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, training people in the use of the tests.

“Anytime we learn there is a major event, whether in North America or throughout the globe, our team proactively contacts our customers and asks, ‘Do you need any help?’” says Chun-Ming Chen, senior director and general manager, IDEXX Water. “We either donate product or work with them to effectively and efficiently put the product to use.”

Helping veterinary practices after the 2011 tsunami in Japan

On Friday, March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan. The fifth largest quake ever recorded in the world, it triggered a tsunami that devastated parts of the country and damaged a nuclear power plant, leading to a meltdown that made a devastating situation extremely dangerous.

Map of Japan

“The epicenter of the earthquake was 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of our headquarters in Tokyo,” explained Bob Luck, senior director and general manager, IDEXX Japan. Despite being at what might have been deemed a safe distance, he said, “the ground shook like crazy.”

Just 11 days later, he and his team implemented a response plan to help veterinary hospitals in the affected areas continue to treat pets and serve pet owners: IDEXX would provide comprehensive assistance to nearly 500 clinics, including free repair and replacement of damaged instruments and free diagnostic services from IDEXX Reference Laboratories for a year.

Luck describes the reaction he got when he proposed the plan. “When I contacted our executive team [at IDEXX], their response was 'great idea—let’s do it!' No second guessing, no bureaucracy.”

In fact, our company wanted to make sure that veterinary hospitals were aware of the offer. Luck says Hironori Kudo, an IDEXX sales representative who lives near the quake’s epicenter, visited clinics to promote the free services and that “many of our employees in finance, customer service, etc., phoned clinics to express their support and explain the free testing offer.” The result was that IDEXX donated $500,000 worth of free testing in 2011. And the company chose to continue providing free testing to shelters and offered an additional discount for other clinics through 2012.

IDEXX CEO Jon Ayers praised the team from Japan, saying, “This team has raised the bar for what the people of IDEXX can accomplish when we are committed to contributing to our communities and to exceeding the expectations of our customers.”

More than three years after the events of March 2011, Hironori Kudo says, “the economy is slowly picking up, and life is almost back to how it used to be in areas not hit by the tsunami, but we still have issues in the affected areas. The disaster had a big impact on our lives, and it seems the bonds have strengthened between people throughout the country ever since.”

Eradicating water-borne disease

Not all disasters are announced with a sudden calamity—many people around the world face ongoing adversity every day due to a lack of the basic requirements for life: shelter, sufficient nutrients and clean water. And IDEXX is committed to helping solve these challenges.

For more than a decade, the company has provided supplies and support to acclaimed microbiologist Dr. Robert Metcalf to help his organization eradicate waterborne diseases in rural communities in Africa. Dr. Metcalf says that with Colilert, he and his team “can teach anyone, anywhere in the world, to perform world-class microbiology without a lab.” His goal is to “demystify microbiology” and provide training that empowers villagers to test their water sources and protect their people. Dr. Metcalf’s work shows that basic education and equipment have the power to combat life-threatening diseases.

Dr. Metcalf is “really is making a difference in people’s lives,” says Chen, “and we are proud to support his efforts in Kenya and all over the world.” Read more about Dr. Metcalf's work.

While IDEXX cannot predict outbreaks, we do know that they will come. Reacting to them rapidly and effectively is part of our culture.

Andre Fuchs, Senior Director, Worldwide Commercial Operations, IDEXX Livestock, Poultry and Dairy