The next 50 years
an interview with Dr. Wilson Hershey, President
As Lancaster Laboratories moves into its 50th year in business, it is a time of reflection as well as projection. No one in the original three-person business in 1961 could have imagined what we would look like 50 years later. Having joined Lancaster Labs 38 years ago as a bench chemist and serving as president for the past 15 years, Dr. Wilson Hershey shares his historical perspective.
Dr. Hershey, what was the basic objective for helping clients meet their goals in the early days?
It was determined early on that delivering outstanding quality and service were absolutely essential for clients’ success as well as ours.
How has Lancaster Labs’ steady growth benefited client relationships?
Today, with 1,000 employees and sites in the U.S. and Europe, we are better recognized and better positioned to serve clients than ever before. In industry surveys, clients say they prefer us based on scientific and regulatory expertise, meeting project deadlines, client service and price. And because of this, the companies that trust us are nearly all of the largest pharmaceutical companies, more than half of the largest chemical and petrochemical firms and large tobacco companies.
What have we learned in the first 50 years that is unlikely to change?
Continuous renewal is essential. We must always add new services and improve existing ones. We must continue to become more efficient. We must never get comfortable with the status quo and must continue to “reinvent” the business.
Personalized client service is a must. It is one way to provide real value and differentiate ourselves. All labs deliver certificates of analysis. Our goal is to have service, quality and technical expertise set us apart.
Size matters. Having grown from a 2,500 square-foot lab in 1961 to 225,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility in Lancaster, demonstrates our ongoing financial stability and commitment to respond to clients’ growing needs. Our three tier service model – fee for service, FTEs at our lab and Professional Scientific Staffingsm (PSS) at client sites–is resonating with our large clients.
Employees are key. We are audited by 100 or more companies and agencies per year. Often during the wrap-up meeting after the audit, we are complimented not only on the technical expertise of our employees but on their can-do attitude, smiles and camaraderie-something not found at many of our competitors.
What will change in the next 50 years?
Technology will continue to change at an ever increasing rate. In 1961 an instrument was capable of running one amino acid sample per day. Today, a sample can be run in 12 minutes using UPLC. Computerization and information management has improved at an even faster pace. Staying ahead of the curve will continue to be a differentiator.
Regulations will change. While the US EPA and FDA are unlikely to relax the official regulations, it remains to be seen how they will enforce those regulations for laboratories. Offering new regulatory methods and ensuring our customers projects are compliant is paramount.
More testing will be done in Europe and Asia. We need to remain adaptable to the needs of these markets and act accordingly.
In summary, our long-term vision is to be the best lab, the gold standard for our industry. With a keen eye on the horizon, we will continually strive to do better for our clients. And backed by our rich 50-year history of delighting clients, Lancaster Labs will work hard to remain the trusted lab for the next 50 years.