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Coronavirus prompts uptick in sales for Utah-based health tech company

Posted at 7:53 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 21:53:22-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Amid concerns of Coronavirus, one Utah-based health technology company is seeing an uptick in sales and a global ‘need for urgent shipments’ of their products.

Rows and rows of boxes carefully packed onto pallets take over just a fragment of Varex Imaging’s 500-thousand square-foot Salt Lake City factory and headquarters.

Among the stacks -- packages that have been processed, wrapped in plastic and put on a fast-track to China.

“We’ve seen an uptick [in orders] and we’re doing everything we can to fulfill that demand,” said Varex CEO, Sunny Sanyal.

The ‘precious cargo’ is comprised of various X-ray imaging components designed and manufactured by the Utah-based company. Things like X-ray tubes, digital detectors, linear accelerators and other image processing solutions are key components of X-ray imaging systems’ such as X-ray machines, CT Scanners, mammography systems and surgical CR systems.

“There are very few companies in the world that make these X-ray based components,” Sanyal continued. “Any kind of X-ray based equipment, there’s more than a 50-percent chance that some critical component in there is made right here in Salt Lake City.”

“We know we make things that touch peoples’ lives,” Sanyal said of their global reach.

When concerns of coronavirus started to escalate – Varex was among the many businesses that had to shut down China-based facilities and cut off travel to the country.

Yet, despite the weeks-long closure of their 80-person factory in Wooshi, China (roughly 458 miles from Wuhan, were the virus originated), Varex Imaging has seen an uptick in sales.

“Particularly because these products go into components of diagnostic imaging machines that are actually used to detect respiratory illnesses,” Sanyal explained.

Basically, when coronavirus -- a respiratory illness -- started to spread, the company’s tech became a hot commodity.

“Many of our customers are facing the need for urgent shipments of these types of equipment globally,” said Sanyal.

Varex Imaging has not stopped shipping into China, but getting the products to the areas that need them has come with its own challenges.

Sanyal said the impact has been three-fold. From the temporary closure of their China factory, to finding new ways to both send and receive supplies from China and track global demand with employees’ best interest and safety in mind.

“We know how quickly that can escalate, we’re in the healthcare business, we understand what that means and we wanted our employees to be safe so we didn’t take any chances,” Sanyal said.

Now, they are doing everything they can to match the need for their products.

“If we have to work extra time, over time, around the clock, seven days a week, our employees respond very, very easily to these types of needs because they understand how important it is to maintain our supplies and continue to support our customers,” said Sanyal. “They know where this equipment is going and the impact that it has on people’s lives.”

As of Wednesday morning, Varex Imaging’s China factory was reopened with all employees accounted for. However, they do not know when they will allow employees to start traveling to China again.