Fore Strong aids relief effort, offers job opportunities
A pair of GAP members merged their entrepreneurial minds to create a COVID-19 testing kit company.
Fore Strong, an assembly operation based in King of Prussia, Pa., is the brainchild of Mark Bartosh, an Aronimink Golf Club member of 22 years, and Daniel Gerrity, a Waynesborough Country Club member of eight years. The close friends and golf compatriots formed Dyad Enterprises, which produces 15,000-20,000 COVID-19 testing kits daily.
“We kind of jumped into this for two reasons,” Bartosh, 53, of Wayne, Pa., said. “One is we wanted to see what we could do to help out during the pandemic. Two, we’re both avid golfers and we know a lot of people who have been impacted and are out of work. Caddies and some of the staff at clubs. We thought this was not only a way to provide a product, but to also help provide an income to people who need it the most right now.”
“People are really in a bind. If you’re a caddie and an independent contractor, and all of this stuff is shut down, then you’re out of luck and living paycheck to paycheck in most places,” Gerrity, 51, of Devon, Pa., added. “To be able to step up and offer some money and to deal with folks who care is pretty important.”
Once COVID-19 raged into crisis mode mid-March, Bartosh and Gerrity set up shop in Trooper, Pa. and gathered a team of 15-20 — caddies, course employees, school bus drivers, personal trainers, you name it.
Such an undertaking served as a saving grace for Corey Whalen, an Aronimink caddie of 18 years. He and his wife Danielle welcomed a baby, eight-week old Everliegh, during the pandemic. A new father lost his job once golf courses closed statewide.
“It was honestly a scary moment because I was really banking on getting back to caddying as soon as possible. All of a sudden, golf shuts down and now I have no money. There goes my income, there goes everything,” Corey Whalen, 28, of Pottstown, Pa., said. “I was happy to get a phone call from (Aronimink caddiemaster) Tom Foley saying that Mark and Dan need some help making COVID-19 test kits. I was more than grateful to take the opportunity to do that, knowing that I wasn’t sure when I’d get back on the golf course. It was a big surprise.”
Whalen is among a laundry list of loopers at Fore Strong. Caddies hailing from Gulph Mills Golf Club, Overbrook Golf Club, St. Davids Golf Club, Stonewall and Waynesborough represent a portion of a staff of 60.
An expansion of staff, an expansion of output and a need for more space. Fore Strong relocated to King of Prussia, Pa. in early May.
“It’s two or three times the size of what we thought it would be. It’s big,” Gerrity said. “We have a whole smorgasbord of people. It’s sort of like that show, ‘The Office.’ You get in there every day, and there are some interesting people who I don’t think any of us will ever forget again.”
Fore Strong assembles COVID-19 testing kits that include the following: a sterilized throat or nose swab, a medium that transports the swab after insertion into the throat or nostril and a chain of custody bag. After the medical professional takes a patient’s sample at a testing site, it goes into the medium vile included in the Fore Strong kit and is shipped to laboratories in five states: California, Ohio, New York, Tennessee and Texas.
“Make, seal, pack and ship” is mantra. Approximately 120,000 kits need to be assembled each week.
“We have a significant number of kits that we’re trying to build on a daily and weekly basis. As you know, the demand for testing far exceeds the supply available in the marketplace,” Bartosh said. “It’s all you can handle right now, for sure.”
Operating seven days a week, Fore Strong functions in three shifts: 8 a.m. to noon, noon to 4 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Team members earn $14 per hour for the first 40 hours, then $15 per hour afterward.
“We’re starting to maximize and optimize the operation to where we pay people based on how many kits they produce in a four-to-five hour spin,” Gerrity said. “There’s some motivation here to get these guys working as a team. It’s fun.”
Fore Strong will continue throughout the pandemic. Restrictions may subside, but the need to stockpile COVID-19 testing supplies will remain. Other medical needs may arise, too.
“At the end of the day, I think we’ll turn this into a year-round business because I think there are a lot of things that can come out of it,” Gerrity said. “On the business end, independent of our staff, I think we continue to look for additional labs that need contractual support for kit building. Post COVID-19, you’ll see lots of places that will want to stockpile these kits, or portions of the kit, as well as ventilators, vaccines, etc.”
Fore Strong is at the forefront — a forecaddie for those in need, if you will.
“I get calls every day. We got new people coming in every day,” Gerrity said. “Come on in. If you like it, then you like it.”
Contact Gerrity via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in joining the Fore Strong team.
Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 288 Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.