A1 Testing & Tagging: a small business passes the pandemic test

A1 Testing and Tagging

They may have been in business for 20 years, but Monash business owner Melinda Fear and her husband Richard, of A1 Testing & Tagging, found that the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic brought them a new level of resilience – and opportunity.

The company has nine employees and services around 1000 businesses, anywhere from once a year to quarterly depending on the business function. Testing and tagging is a health and safety function that ensures all plug-in appliances are safe for people to use in the workplace.

Melinda, who is also A1 Testing & Tagging’s office manager, said at the start of the pandemic in early-2020, her business, like many others, had to make its operations home-based.

“It was bit tricky, and scary, because we weren’t sure how long we were going to need to be at home,” she said. “Initially, we thought ‘we can do this for two weeks’ … we had no idea.”

While the COVID-19 restrictions experienced in Victoria cut A1’s business by half, Melinda said there was a silver lining - the lockdown and restriction periods allowed the A1 team to spend more time focusing on its innovative test and tag android app, Clevermode

The app allows a portable, wireless test and tag functionality with the ability to print tags, essential for occupational health and safety (OH&S), on site.

The business has formed a partnership with a large distribution company to distribute its application throughout Australia and New Zealand for people who undertake this work.

“Being in small business for several years you must be prepared for anything, but COVID-19 is certainly not what we ever could have imagined,” Melinda said. “Amid all the challenges of the past few years, we were given time, with business slowing, which we used to work on our app system Clevermode.

“It’s brought about another level of resilience for our business, and we’ve adapted.”

Now that restrictions have lifted and business has again picked up to pre-pandemic levels, A1 recently relocated to Eastern Innovation in Mulgrave, a shared working space for small businesses.

After the isolation of working from home, Melinda said she valued the shared space and interactions with other businesspeople at Eastern Innovation.

“One of the biggest challenges I observed about working from home was the isolation,” she said. “I think it impacted many women who work in administration or office roles. In our industry it was mostly the men who could still get out to clients and have those interactions and conversations face-to-face.

“That’s something I like about being based at Eastern Innovation. There are other people to say ‘good morning’ to. It doesn't take much to fill that gap of social interaction that we missed out on during the lockdowns.”

Find out more about A1 Testing & Tagging and Eastern Innovation.