Leveraging cross-border and global partnerships is crucial to providing clients with quality service. Here’s how SGS Canada is taking seed testing to a new level.

Shipping seed samples  for testing across the Canada-U.S. border was problematic even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it can be even more aggravating.

“It’s challenging primarily because it’s inconsistent,” says Holly Gelech, business development manager, agriculture and food for SGS Canada.

It’s been three years since BioVision was acquired by global testing, inspection, and certification company SGS Canada Inc. Of course, no one could predict the coming pandemic at the time, but Gelech says with the challenges the industry is facing at the moment, being a part of the SGS team is paying dividends for SGS Canada, based in Sherwood Park, Alta.

“We have always had clients on both sides of the border. Now, we can facilitate testing in the country of origin instead of having delays due to sending samples back and forth across borders. We can manage projects in the country our customers want them to be managed in. It’s a huge win for everyone involved.”

Add to the mix consistent testing methods and procedures and SGS Canada’s ability to make use of North American service agreements (as opposed to just individual country-based agreements) and you have a new standard of seed testing in Canada, Gelech says.

Project management across borders is just one of several external benefits the industry is realizing with SGS Canada in the seed testing picture, according to Gelech.

SGS Canada’s growth is being bolstered in a number of ways via its partnership with the SGS global seed testing network. Namely, access to capital and procurement of resources for new services.

Holly Gelech of SGS Canada.

“Easier access to capital means we can bring in new instrumentation to offer new services, upgrade technologies, and move faster than we ever have to provide what clients need. A procurement team assists us with accessing laboratory supplies in a timely manner, and that includes access to personal protective equipment which right now is crucial to the health of both our employees and clients,” Gelech says.

“Keeping everyone healthy ensures business continues as usual so there are no interruptions. The last things our clients need are delays and downtime.”

That supported growth means new opportunities in testing. Over the last three years SGS Canada has seen major additions to its portfolio: it has become accredited by the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), which supports global export requirements for the seed trade. It’s also now a CFIA Authorized Exporter Laboratory for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Seed Schemes.

As a result, it can now provide testing for dust-off and active ingredient analysis. Both are advanced services made possible with specific instruments SGS Canada has access to.

SGS Canada’s internal collaboration with the SGS ISTA-accredited lab in Brookings, South Dakota, means SGS Canada has regular access to colleagues on the other side of the border whom they can work with to ensure SGS Canada’s clients receive the most up-to-date, accurate information and testing results possible.

Despite all the changes, she notes that day-to-day business at SGS Canada hasn’t changed since the days when it was known as BioVision.

“When it comes to our front-facing client services team, that has remained the same at our laboratory locations in Sherwood Park and Grand Prairie. We still have staff monitoring the phones. Our system is not set up to digitally move people through a telephone web. Client services are crucial for us,” she adds.

For info visit biovision.ca.

High-Level Innovation: SGS Canada Advancements from the Past 20 Years

  • Web-based communication with clients via an online portal, replacing fax and snail mail.
  • LIMS (Lab Information Management System) built for internal operations which removed paper from the lab. All electronic. No more filing cabinets. Use of barcodes and scanners for accuracy.
  • SGS Acquisition supporting service growth and cross-border projects & relationships.
  • What’s Next: Continued transition to data transfer such as APIs, and services around genetics and seed treatments/enhancements and new crops.