Calibrate, Inc.

Chapel Hill, NC

Started in 1983, Calibrate is a privately-held, ISO 17025-accredited pipette calibration and repair business headquartered in Carrboro, North Carolina. It was the first company accredited to provide this type of service onsite. Calibrate has regional offices across the United States and Canada.

Six years ago, Calibrate was an active University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill SBTDC client, but current business conditions brought them back to the SBTDC for assistance in 2010. Ann Lenhardt, Calibrate’s Chief Operating Officer, initially met with UNC SBTDC regional director, Ron Ilinitch, to get assistance with financial analysis / tracking, sales force opportunities, organization strategy, and management team building.

The SBTDC conducted financial analysis, including tying prior years to current financials, bridging a shift in account layout. Rich Wilson, business counselor, also compared their financials against competitors which was an “eye-opening” experience for Ann and their management team.

In an effort to improve the organization and management efforts, the SBTDC provided a full-day strategy session with 15 of Calibrate’s staff, including TAIS analysis and instructional feedback.

Ann particularly appreciates the sales and marketing assistance provided by Jim Blaylock of the SBTDC’s Strategy & Organization Development services team. His assistance was beneficial in bringing forward the idea that a dedicated sales force would be very beneficial. The sales reorganization at Calibrate has started, and Ann believes Jim’s expert sales and marketing guidance will powerfully impact their bottom line. With a more centralized sales organization versus the previous varying effectiveness across regions, Calibrate has created a more successful approach to following up on marketing leads.

All of their efforts to improve and grow their business have resulted in Calibrate’s continuing success. The business is thriving with over 40 employees and a 250% increase in annual revenue since 2004. They also now offer a User Qualification Clinic, which is designed to train their clients’ staff in pipetting techniques to reduce pipet errors and improve quality and efficiency of laboratory operations. In addition, business operations have improved due to better financial tracking by region, improved inventory tracking, and enhanced accountability. And, with a more energized management team, best practices are shared more readily throughout Calibrate.

Their dedication to having a strong, healthy business and happy employees is evidenced by their receipt of a 2011 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Blue Ribbon Small Business Award® which honors their significant contribution to job creation and as a driver of economic growth.

“The SBTDC has brought experienced and wise mentors to Calibrate. It has been an invaluable experience,” says Ann.

Story originally featured in the SBTDC's 2010-11 Annual Report.