Chris Beasley is upbeat about the future while recognizing the challenges of the present. He is Marketing Manager in Electrochemistry at Gamry Instruments where he has worked for 10 years. Gamry Instruments designs and builds precision electrochemical instrumentation and accessories. Chris received his BS magna cum laude in Chemistry from Kutztown University in 2000.

Gamry is an ECS Institutional Member at the Benefactor Level. Chris serves on the ECS Sponsorship Committee.

Stepping up

Newswise — “We’re upbeat at Gamry even though this is a difficult time. We’re doing all we can for the company but also realize there are bigger issues than making sure that we’re making as many sales as possible. We’re responding to the current crisis. Gamry employees are stepping up and organizing ways to help. We volunteer, sew masks, deliver masks and hand sanitizer to local facilities, run food pantry drives, and things like that.

We know that a vaccine or effective treatments must get developed—and the science community is here for that. Gamry is an ECS Institutional Member to support the Society’s excellent mission. It’s important to expand ECS’s outreach because electrochemistry is a broad science that impacts so many areas, especially in dealing with challenges like we are facing now. The science must go on, and the science will prevail. And that gives me hope. This has happened before. It’s going to happen again. We will stick together as a community, and we will come out on the other side, stronger for it. We’ll be more prepared the next time we face a similar challenge.”

Safety is top priority

“Gamry’s top priority is the safety of our employees and customers. When we initially shut down, we spent a lot of time putting policies based on CDC guidelines in place to make sure our employees were safe when we return to work. While everyone who can work from home is doing so, the instruments must be manufactured in the building and some essential R&D functions need to take place there, too. The manufacturing crew works in the building in rotating shifts, follows rules to reduce interaction,  enters only certain areas, and must wear PPE at all times.

(Before COVID-19) during a typical workday, I walk around the building asking how things are, which customers they’re talking to, and what support issues are popping up. I check in with production and manufacturing and spend a lot of time with R&D to see how their projects are going. Now I am home, working from my bedroom.

April, May, and June—normally, those are very busy months for travel and I spend a lot of time organizing shows and equipment. At the shows, I speak with users and potential customers, visit the poster exhibition, and attend talks to learn what’s new in the field. Now we’re not traveling at all.”

Relieving isolation

“I talk to a lot of people virtually, but it’s not the same as being in the office. You have to try to set up a meeting with them or text them. Some of us feel a bit isolated because of that. Gamry has ‘coffee breaks’ where as many people as possible get on Teams and chat—nothing work related, just what’s going on in your life. Some people got puppies; others had kids who graduated. These breaks help relieve the isolation.

Not having to commute each day has freed me up to spend more time playing with my kids. As long as I pick the right time of day, I can avoid people while I walk, run, or bike. That has really helped relieve feelings of being cooped up. Just getting out for a little bit each day or spending a little extra time with the kids has meant a lot.”

New ventures, new roles

“We had two projects that were very close to launching which we wanted to show off at the spring shows. Once the pressure to meet that deadline was removed, they slowed down a little bit. Adjusting to working at home was part of the reason. But the pace picked up, and we’re almost ready to launch. Stand by for news!

Realizing that a lot of our users are stuck at home, we’ve put on a series of webinars. They’re educational, teaching about impedance or corrosion or battery testing. We want to support our customers by providing helpful information.

I find I help people with IT issues more often than in the past. It’s not necessarily sales-related; part of me has become an IT administrator, figuring out how IP phones work and when you need Power over Ethernet injectors. These are little things that we don’t have to do in the office because tech staff is available.”

Once a scientist, always a scientist

“I was relieved and disappointed when the 237th ECS Meeting was cancelled. I knew the situation was getting worse and worried about returning home after the meeting and possibly spreading the virus to my family. I was also disappointed because I love going to these meetings, hearing about new research and talking to Gamry users. There’s still a researcher inside me. Even though I am a sales manager, in my heart I’m still a scientist and like seeing what science is being done.”