In June, as part of its Canadian Business Resilience Network campaign, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, through the generosity of Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), gave 62 small Canadian businesses from coast to coast to coast $10,000 grants to help their recovery efforts during these unprecedented times. Since then, grant recipients have been able to use the grant money to make changes that will help their business stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is the story of AGS Rehab Solutions from Mississauga, Ontario.
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Addie Greco-Sanchez, President of AGS Rehab Solutions, Inc. in Mississauga.
For over 20 years, AGS Rehab Solutions has been providing disability management solutions, including medical and clinical assessments, vocational rehabilitation and mental health services. Through its 11 offices in Ontario, AGS’ services are provided to disabled/injured workers and customers include government agencies, automobile and life insurers, employers and law firms.
In operation since 1999, AGS (the initials are Addie’s) is a family-owned business. The entire family, including Addie’s husband, son and daughter are dedicated employees of AGS. Addie’s sister, Gina Greco, joined the executive team in 2015 and became a partner.
How things change. Last September, AGS celebrated its 20th anniversary; and then the pandemic hit.
When COVID-19 struck, AGS was poised to achieve its best financial results to date, having exponentially grown the company’s assessment services and invested in mental health services and training.
The funds awarded through the CBRN grant are enabling AGS to face the future with a renewed energy. Quick to regroup and figure out a new pathway for the business, Addie says that the pandemic forced AGS, ahead of schedule, to bring much of their business online. By conferring with their team of practitioners, they determined that many assessments could be done virtually.
It’s safe to say that the pandemic, if it could have a positive outcome, is forcing companies, like AGS, make the transition to have virtual business platforms and form new ways of working. As Addie indicated, “necessity is the mother of all invention,” pushing AGS ahead probably about five years ahead of where the company might have been otherwise.
Addie is well aware of the important role that chambers of commerce and boards of trade play. She has been an active volunteer with the Mississauga Board of Trade, and, the day we were talking to her, she was also recording a podcast with the MBOT – busy entrepreneur! You can listen to that podcast here.
Along with physical well-being, mental health is incredibly important to Addie and her team. In fact, we discovered through our conversation that she is a subject matter expert in the area of mental health and she is co-author of the newly-released book, The 5-Minute Recharge, 31 Proven Strategies to Refresh, Reset, and Become the Boss of Your Day.
She also recognized, when she received the grant, that in addition to setting up new procedures and protocols for the success of her business, she needed to do something for her team – the people that power her business and who have been with her all the way. So she gave them all gift certificates for groceries – because “who doesn’t need groceries?!” As AGS’ website states, “Our success depends entirely on two things: how well we serve our customers; and how well we treat our employees.”
We talked a little bit about mental health and how the pandemic has affected workers’ states of mind. Throughout the pandemic and prior to it, the Canadian Chamber has been a strong advocate for mental health awareness and support mechanisms.
In talking about some of the Canadian Chamber’s policy priorities, Addie said that the pandemic has also helped AGS to become more green as a business. How so? The insurance/claims industry has tended to be very paper-centric. Adopting digital platforms has cut down on the paper being passed back and forth between clients, AGS and its’ customers. Investing in technology, AGS has invested in technology and digital signatures have become accepted. Less travel time for appointments for both clients and AGS’ team also means less vehicles on the road and, for some clients, often a less stressful and more accessible assessment appointment.
Addie ended our conversation with a shout-out to the resources that have been made available through the Canadian Business Resilience Network. It’s rewarding to see that some of the resources that we, the Canadian Business Resilience Network, have been able to provide, including the CBRN grant, have helped small and medium-sized businesses, like AGS, continue to move forward. Coincidentally, Addie referenced that AGS uses the “Moving You Forward” as a tagline!
To learn more about the CBRN Small Business Relief Fund and see the full list of grant recipients, visit the Small Business Relief Fund page.