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How one founder and director leveraged the pandemic as a growth engine without focusing on revenue

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How one founder and director leveraged the pandemic as a growth engine without focusing on revenue

We started with nothing; we found funds where we could through savings and borrowing from friends and family that wholeheartedly believed in our brand. The main driving force that sustained us was a strong belief that we were creating something worthwhile

Steve Moon Founder & Director, LinkSafe




In early 2020, LinkSafe remodelled its cloud-based contractor management system to keep up with client demand for a trusted, easy solution to new vaccine protocols. This quick change in gears resulted in a 33 per cent increase in revenue and almost doubled their client base. 

Since 2012, the team has grown their client base from 10 to 545, with over 30 international businesses utilising the platform daily. LinkSafe founder Steve Moon says that the company worked tirelessly in the early stages of the pandemic to ensure they could capture sensitive medical data on behalf of their clients. However, there were many lessons to learn along the way.

“As LinkSafe developed and grew, there were many things I had to learn. At the beginning of this journey, I could concentrate on doing what I enjoyed: the creative side of product development. 

Steve Moon, Founder & Director, LinkSafe

“As we grew, I had to step out of my comfort zone and work on things like sales, marketing and managing overheads and staff. None of these came naturally to me, but I accepted that they needed to be done and had to do it. I decided early on to employ great people and contractors and implement systems to take on the things I didn’t have the time or skills to do properly,” Steve says.

“While this created additional costs, it was an investment that had to happen to grow the business to what it is today. Without a solid and trusted team by my side and bulletproof systems and processes, LinkSafe could not have succeeded. I have found that you have to be passionate about what you do to develop a new business from scratch. This passion helped me get through the lean times at the start and helped me get support from friends and family. It then helped me sell the vision to staff and clients. 

The inception

The idea for this business was developed over time, according to Steve. “Initially, it came out of discussions with clients about the challenges they were facing with the operations and processes of their business.”

“From the initial idea, I  engaged in more in-depth discussions with clients regarding ideal ways to improve and automate safety and compliance requirements in their business. The needs within the safety and compliance sector expanded rapidly, and we were quick to understand the importance of ensuring we were continually developing and innovating new features and modules to stay relevant and successful in a growth market.”

The early stages

Steve says that the early stages of establishing the business in 2005 stemmed from a combination of communicating with potential clients about their needs and proposing various ideas and possible solutions to meet said demands.

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“The first 18 months of the business were predominantly research and development-based, typified by hard work and long hours, but also great excitement for the future as we were developing an innovative software product in the emerging market of safety and compliance.    

“This was followed by creating a mock-up of the software screens to garner client interest and, in some cases, receiving a forward commitment from clients to use the software when it was ready.” 

“The thing I want to highlight for others who wish to start their own business is how important it is to ensure you share your vision and your passion with your staff and your clients, as this will help your business grow and thrive in a dynamic and changing market.”

Because we were stepping into a relatively new and undefined market, we propelled our business forward by reaching out to potential clients with the trust and confidence to adopt new technology to fulfil their demands. In other words, the typical ‘early adopters’ were our first clients. 

Revenue wasn’t the driver.

In the early stages of the business, revenue was not deemed a primary driver for LinkSafe – it was all about investing in the future, Steve says.

“We started with nothing; we found funds where we could through savings and borrowing from friends and family that wholeheartedly believed in our brand. The main driving force that sustained us was a strong belief that we were creating something worthwhile – we were creating a valuable service that businesses would not only want but one they would need to achieve their growing safety and compliance obligations.

“At the end of the day, we’re providing essential software and services that clients of our kind cannot do without. Not engaging in or having poor contractor safety management could result in dire legal and financial ramifications.”

The catalyst

Steve notes that the company worked tirelessly in the early stages of the pandemic to ensure they could capture sensitive medical data on behalf of their clients while providing a way to redact this information once stored.

“We needed to help bolster our client’s online abilities around contractor engagement, enforcement of vaccine protocols and COVID Safe Plans. Although we could not see the complications of a global pandemic, we were lucky because our system was built with the foresight to handle unprecedented circumstances. 

“During 2020, our legal advisory arm LinkSafe Legal, which contractor safety heavyweight Sue Bottrell now leads, was able to provide critical advice, assistance and support in navigating new COVID-19 laws, requirements and differences in health directives issued from state to state.”

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Steve continues by saying that the business’s provision of necessary services contributed to increased demand during the pandemic.

“Our products and services were deemed essential by our corporate and Government clients, thus resulting in the strong demand for our business. We proactively remodelled our cloud-based contractor management system to keep up with client demands. 

“We strived to be a trusted, easy solution with setting up and actively managing new vaccine protocols for our clients during the pandemic’s uncertain times. Like many other businesses, we were significantly impacted by restrictions and had to find a new way of doing ‘business as usual. Thanks and credit to our team, we were able to pivot to a working-from-home model quickly. 

“While this model was not ideal, we found that by utilising our strong internal work systems, we could complete work faster than before. Over the pandemic, the uncertainty of a ‘new normal’ faced by businesses highlighted the importance of safety and compliance. This cemented safety and compliance processes as a mandatory requirement until this day.

The secret recipe

Steve believes that the success of any business relies on establishing a name for itself in the market. 

“To ensure the success of our services, we worked closely with clients with a strong vision, industry knowledge and the ability to collaborate with us in strategising a viable solution that we could incorporate into our products. In turn, their constructive feedback greatly informed our current capabilities in developing a functional and valuable service that could be applied to a plethora of clients from various industries. 

“When we started the business, safety and compliance requirements in the general commercial and industrial sectors were just beginning to emerge. Safety and compliance were commonly managed with paper-based or spreadsheet systems, or in many cases, not done at all. 

“One of the initial challenges was to understand the operational issues faced by clients and successfully design a system that reflects those needs into automated processes efficiently – such as providing users with a straightforward and clear workflow and record-keeping features for audit and compliance requirements.” 

“Another challenge we recognised was to make sure we developed a service that was not only useful to clients in specific sectors but also to ensure we prevail as a well-rounded service that is well-informed and flexible to be used in every industry. Over time, we applied an agile approach to developing our service, which allowed us to pivot and respond to emerging needs efficiently.”

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While many Australian businesses providing contract management services are relying on offshore tech support and customer service partners, Steve and the LinkSafe team believe these services should be kept in-house. 

“We’ve developed an on-shore, in-house proactive client support network which allows us to service our clients, get to know them intimately and strengthen our relationships by providing them guidance, support and introductions to various networks we’ve formed relationships with. We are more than a software company; we’re a trusted industry partner always a phone call away,” says Steve.

“As LinkSafe developed and grew, there were many things I had to learn. At the beginning of this journey, I could concentrate on doing what I enjoyed: the creative side of product development. As we grew, I had to step out of my comfort zone and work on things like sales, marketing and managing overheads and staff. None of these came naturally to me, but I accepted that they needed to be done and had to do it. 

“I decided early on to employ great people and contractors and implement systems to take on the things I didn’t have the time or skills to do correctly. While this created additional costs, it was an investment that had to happen to grow the business to what it is today. 

“Without a solid and trusted team by my side and bulletproof systems and processes, LinkSafe could not have grown. I have found that you have to be passionate about what you do to develop a new business from scratch. This passion helped me get through the lean times at the start and helped me get support from friends and family. It then helped me sell the vision to staff and clients. 

“The thing I want to highlight for others who wish to start their own business is how important it is to ensure you share your vision and your passion with your staff and your clients, as this will help your business grow and thrive in a dynamic and changing market.

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

BALTIMORE (AP) — Teams of engineers worked Saturday on the intricate process of cutting and lifting the first section of twisted steel from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, which crumpled into the Patapsco River this week after a massive cargo ship crashed into one of its supports.

Sparks could be seen flying from a section of bent and crumpled steel in the afternoon, and video released by officials in the evening showed demolition crews using a cutting torch to slice through the thick beams. The joint incident command said in a statement that the work was being done on the top of the north side of the collapsed structure.

Crews were carefully measuring and cutting the steel from the broken bridge before attaching straps so it can be lifted onto a barge and floated away, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said.

Seven floating cranes — including a massive one capable of lifting 1,000 tons — 10 tugboats, nine barges, eight salvage vessels and five Coast Guard boats were on site in the water southeast of Baltimore.

Each movement affects what happens next and ultimately how long it will take to remove all the debris and reopen the ship channel and the blocked Port of Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

“I cannot stress enough how important today and the first movement of this bridge and of the wreckage is. This is going to be a remarkably complicated process,” Moore said.

Undeterred by the chilly morning weather, longtime Baltimore resident Randy Lichtenberg and others took cellphone photos or just quietly looked at the broken pieces of the bridge, which including its steel trusses weigh as much as 4,000 tons.

“I wouldn’t want to be in that water. It’s got to be cold. It’s a tough job,” Lichtenberg said from a spot on the river called Sparrows Point.

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The shock of waking up Tuesday morning to video of what he called an iconic part of the Baltimore skyline falling into the water has given way to sadness.

“It never hits you that quickly. It’s just unbelievable,” Lichtenberg said.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

One of the first goals for crews on the water is to get a smaller auxiliary ship channel open so tugboats and other small barges can move freely. Crews also want to stabilize the site so divers can resume searching for four missing workers who are presumed dead.

Two other workers were rescued from the water in the hours following the bridge collapse, and the bodies of two more were recovered from a pickup truck that fell and was submerged in the river. They had been filling potholes on the bridge and while police were able to stop vehicle traffic after the ship called in a mayday, they could not get to the construction workers, who were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The crew of the cargo ship Dali, which is managed by Synergy Marine Group, remained on board with the debris from the bridge around it, and were safe and were being interviewed. They are keeping the ship running as they will be needed to get it out of the channel once more debris has been removed.

The vessel is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd. and was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk.

The collision and collapse appeared to be an accident that came after the ship lost power. Federal and state investigators are still trying to determine why.

Assuaging concern about possible pollution from the crash, Adam Ortiz, the Environmental Protection Agency’s mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, said there was no indication in the water of active releases from the ship or materials hazardous to human health.

REBUILDING

Officials are also trying to figure out how to handle the economic impact of a closed port and the severing of a major highway link. The bridge was completed in 1977 and carried Interstate 695 around southeast Baltimore.

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Maryland transportation officials are planning to rebuild the bridge, promising to consider innovative designs or building materials to hopefully shorten a project that could take years.

President Joe Biden’s administration has approved $60 million in immediate aid and promised the federal government will pay the full cost to rebuild.

Ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore remains suspended, but the Maryland Port Administration said trucks were still being processed at marine terminals.

The loss of a road that carried 30,000 vehicles a day and the port disruption will affect not only thousands of dockworkers and commuters, but also U.S. consumers, who are likely to feel the impact of shipping delays. The port handles more cars and more farm equipment than any other U.S. facility.

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Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Washington, D.C.; Kristin M. Hall in Nashville, Tennessee; Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington, contributed.

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

DALLAS (AP) — The Texas attorney general has opened an investigation into a key Boeing supplier that is already facing scrutiny from federal regulators over quality of parts that it provides to the aircraft maker.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said it began looking into Spirit AeroSystems because of “apparent manufacturing defects” in parts that “have led to numerous concerning or dangerous incidents.”

In a statement Friday, a Spirit spokesman said, “While we do not comment on investigations, Spirit is wholly focused on providing the highest quality products to all our customers, to include the Boeing Company.”

Paxton asked the Wichita, Kansas-based supplier to turn over documents produced since the start of 2022 about communication with investors and Boeing about flaws in parts and corrective steps the company took.

The request goes into detail in seeking internal discussions around Spirit’s efforts to create a diverse workforce “and whether those commitments are unlawful or are compromising the company’s manufacturing processes.” Paxton asked for a breakdown of Spirit’s workforce by race, sexual orientation and other factors, and whether the makeup has changed over time.

Since a Spirit-made door-plug panel blew off an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max in January, some conservatives have tried to link aviation safety to diversity at manufacturers.

Paxton is a conservative Republican who this week agreed to pay $271,000 in restitution to victims and take 15 hours of training in legal ethics to settle felony charges of securities fraud. Paxton did not admit wrongdoing in the 9-year-old case.

The Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into Boeing Spirit after the Alaska Airlines incident. An FAA audit of manufacturing procedures in Spirit’s factory gave the company failing grades in seven of 13 areas.

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Boeing is in talks to buy back Spirit, which it spun off nearly 20 years ago, as part of a plan to tighten oversight of manufacturing in its supply chain.

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Boeing plane found to have missing panel after flight from California to southern Oregon

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Boeing plane found to have missing panel after flight from California to southern Oregon

By CLAIRE RUSH and LISA BAUMANN

 

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A post-flight inspection revealed a missing panel on an older Boeing 737-800 that had just arrived at its destination in southern Oregon on Friday after flying from San Francisco, officials said, the latest in a series of recent incidents involving aircraft manufactured by the company.

United Flight 433 left San Francisco at 10:20 a.m. and landed at Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in Medford shortly before noon, according to FlightAware. The airport’s director, Amber Judd, said the plane landed safely without incident and the external panel was discovered missing during a post-flight inspection. No injuries were reported.

The airport paused operations to check the runway and airfield for debris, Judd said, and none was found.

Judd said she believed the United ground crew or pilots doing a routine inspection before the next flight were the ones who noticed the missing panel.

A United Airlines spokesperson said via email that the flight was carrying 139 passengers and six crew members, and no emergency was declared because there was no indication of the damage during the flight.

 

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The Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center is pictured in Medford, Ore., on Jan. 4, 2024. The first lawsuit filed Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, brought amid reports that a nurse at the southern Oregon hospital replaced intravenous fentanyl drips with tap water seeks up to $11.5 million on behalf of the estate of a 65-year-old man who died. (Janet Eastman/The Oregonian/The Oregonian via AP)

 

“After the aircraft was parked at the gate, it was discovered to be missing an external panel,” the United spokesperson said. “We’ll conduct a thorough examination of the plane and perform all the needed repairs before it returns to service. We’ll also conduct an investigation to better understand how this damage occurred.”

The Federal Aviation Administration also said it would investigate.

The missing panel was on the underside of the aircraft where the wing meets the body and just next to the landing gear, United said.

The plane made its first flight in April 1998 and was delivered to Continental Airlines in December of that year, according to the FAA. United Airlines has operated it since Nov. 30, 2011. It is a 737-824, part of the 737-800 series that was a precursor to the Max.

Boeing said, also via email, that it would defer comment to United about the carrier’s fleet and operations.

In January a panel that plugged a space left for an extra emergency door blew off a Boeing Max 9 jet in midair just minutes after an Alaska Airlines flight took off from Portland, leaving a gaping hole and forcing pilots to make an emergency landing. There were no serious injuries.

The door plug was eventually found in the backyard of a high school physics teacher in southwest Portland, along with other debris from the flight scattered nearby. The Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation.

On March 6, fumes detected in the cabin of a Boeing 737-800 Alaska Airlines flight destined for Phoenix caused pilots to head back to the Portland airport.

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The Port of Portland said passengers and crew noticed the fumes and the flight landed safely. Seven people including passengers and crew requested medical evaluations, but no one was hospitalized, officials said.

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Baumann reported from Bellingham, Washington.

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