WV-based environmental research lab enjoys steady growth - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV-based environmental research lab enjoys steady growth

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REIC lab technician Josh Barrett conducts a test at the company's Beckley laboratory. REIC lab technician Josh Barrett conducts a test at the company's Beckley laboratory.
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By name alone, Research Environmental Industrial Consultants, or REIC, might seem like one company. Describing it sounds like far more.

That's because in an effort to maintain high quality control standards, the laboratory not only conducts its own unique battery of scientific experiment and analyses, but it also conducts a regional courier, breeds its own aquatic test subjects and manages an information system that puts data at its customers fingertips.

The Beckley-based company primarily deals with wastewater, drinking water and soil samples. The mining and oil and gas industries are big customers, but so are governmental agencies. Those agencies include environmental protection departments and highway departments working in various states within REIC's region.

"It's a pretty wide range of clients," said Clarence L. Haile, executive vice president of REIC, which was founded in the early 1980s and just recently opened a service center in Morgantown.

The lab is located in multiple buildings on a campus near the Raleigh County Memorial Airport. In each building, specialty labs teem with employees conducting various tests.

"We're pretty much a full-service laboratory," Haile said. "That doesn't mean we do everything, because everything is too big. We do most all of the common tests, and we can subcontract some very specialized analyses. We're good at knowing who to subcontract, as well."

Haile said even the fish used in biological tests are grown at the lab. That's because the lab previously had problems with finding and acquiring lively, active fish. Breeding in-house helps REIC follow one of the most important tenets of science — maintain as perfect a control as possible to test a variable.

Haile emphasized REIC's commitment to quality, saying that commitment is what allowed REIC to grow from a handful of people in Beckley to a staff of approximately 110 people with service center locations in Morgantown, as well as the Mid-Ohio Valley, Shenandoah Valley and Roanoke, Va.

"We're here. We're a large company and compete well with the large national firms," he said. " … If you do high quality work for a client, you're going to do business with that client for a long time."

He said the company has grown more than 30 percent in the past six or seven years.

A particular area the company excels at, he said, is in its ability to go beyond simple regulatory-specific tests. Experience with problem solving and experimental methods development is prevalent at REIC.

The local service centers conduct a limited amount of testing. If the tests have a wait period of more than 24 hours, Haile said the samples are brought via REIC's courier service to the Beckley lab.

Doing most of its work out of the same lab allows better quality control, Haile said. It also enables researchers to devote more resources to each task. REIC, he said, is largest lab of its type in the state.

"I say we're regional, but it's a big region," Haile said.

The courier service extends the lab's range across the entire state and much of its borders. One customer, Haile said, is as far as southern North Carolina.

The company doesn't take sides on issues. The purpose of the lab, Haile said, is simply to utilize the best scientific methods available and report the results.

"Our purpose is to provide high quality service our clients can depend on. We're a neutral party in that respect," Haile said. "What our clients do with that information is their responsibility, but we want to make sure they have the truth. No matter what path they take, they should have the truth."

To learn more about the laboratory, including a video tour, visit www.reiclabs.com