Mark Sims. Courtesy of BizX

Fikes PPE was launched in the late 1990s out of a small storage unit and a van, and has since grown into one of the most renowned resources for businesses in the Pacific Northwest, with warehouses throughout the region.

Fikes has focused on services ranging from odor control and custom scenting to sanitation and pest control, with a mission of enhancing businesses’ image, saving them valuable time and reducing costs.

When COVID-19 hit the Puget Sound region, the company’s ultimate goal remained but the needs of businesses changed. Deep-cleaning and to-go containers for restaurants, in particular, were needed more frequently, and a thermal recognition scanner that Fikes sells became so popular that it had to be ordered in mass quantities.

One key way that Fikes has been able to leverage its tools and services is through bartering via BizX, which CEO and founder Mark Sims first heard about through Seattle’s Entrepreneurs Organization.

While in the past they’d use it for everything from printing materials and furniture to logoed vans for its fleet, since the pandemic began Sims said Sikes has been looking closely at different ways to utilize some of the 7,000-plus members in the network, particularly those who might be most in need of PPE.

He also noted that the company has done a great deal of charitable giving on and off the network, and, with the holidays coming up, Sims noted the number of gifting services that BizX works with, making it an attractive option for gifts to partners or team members.

“We’ve actually used bartering as an option for quarterly bonuses and allowed team members to choose whether they want a unique experience or time off,” Sims said. “We even rewarded a team member by sending them on a trip to Cabo through BizX.”

Sims acknowledged that, whether for employee perks or must-have resources, he has a hard time imagining having the same rate of success and growth without bartering.

“If I was only in my business for a year or two and trying to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, I’d be struggling,” he said. “Hopefully BizX members are taking advantage of the network and looking at the goods and services that are available.”