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Drug testing takes new path

After 25 years in commercial banking, Michael Gedigk found himself at the half-century mark wanting to start his own business.

He had an extensive list of criteria, but the top two were most important – the business would have to be recession-proof and generate recurring revenue from clients.

“I also wanted to be part of an emerging trend, where I would become an expert in a particular field. I wanted the business to be scalable, in other words, easy to expand, with not too much overhead and not too labor-intensive.”

The answer? USA Mobile Drug Testing, one of the 20,000 mobile franchises nationwide. Research shows that mobile franchises grew almost 20 percent from 2006 to 2010, everything from dry cleaning services to dog training. Gedigk’s company, USA Mobile Drug Testing of Westchester and southern Fairfield County, was started in August 2011. It assists area employers in developing drug-free workplaces. His team of compliance specialists travels to businesses to perform testing. Its main goal is to help employers take proactive steps to screen new workers and develop drug-free workplace programs. It provides drug and alcohol testing, breath alcohol and DNA testing, as well as background checks and related services for corporations, the government and schools.

“The first thing we do is talk to the client,” he said. “‘What kind of business do you have? What is your concern? Why are you considering implementing a drug-free work environment?’ Some say they are having terrible drug problems. Others want a hedge against liability and workers’ comp claims. Others just want a healthy productive workforce or to reduce absenteeism.”

The average drug-abusing employee, Gedigk said, costs an employer $7,000 a year. “And that doesn’t even include workers’ comp claims, just loss of productivity, health issues, tardiness. We consult with each business on what their program would look like,” he said.

“We advise them on what they can do – the type of testing, the frequency, the percentage of employees to be tested. We also will write a manual for employees on what the company is doing and why. You don’t want employees to resent it. You can’t just come down on people heavy handed. Some employees might even be tired of covering up for drug-abusing employees.”

Gedigk said privacy is obviously a huge concern. “I will never call anybody (who’s) positive. If a result comes in that might be positive, it goes to the medical review officer. He then calls the donor and explains what happened. If the donor says it was related to use of a prescription drug, we verify it with the doctor and the employer never knows there was a potential positive.”

Mobile testing, said Gedigk, has the obvious advantage of preventing workers from taking steps to camouflage drug abuse. “If workers have to go to a lab to be tested, on the way they can drink fluids to adulterate the results. The only warning they get that we are coming is when we are standing in front of them. They can’t leave the room, or eat or drink.”

As for how business is going, Gedigk said it’s been a little slower than he might have wanted. “I had hoped to easily break six figures in gross revenue in the first 12 months. I will probably just about reach it.”

He said the business is not yet as developed in Connecticut as in Westchester, but that that was a business choice, to focus on Westchester. “Still, I feel completely confirmed in my decision to enter this business.”

 

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