Analytical testing dots Columbia Analytical History

In July of 1986, Steve Vincent and Mike Shelton, two Weyerhaeuser Company analytical research scientists, founded Columbia Analytical Services, Inc. in Longview, Wash. Their goal was to establish the best commercial environmental testing laboratory in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Columbia Analytical has grown into one of the largest independent commercial testing laboratory networks in the United States – now with service centers, more than $40 million in revenues, and six laboratory locations.

In 1988, Columbia Analytical merged with EMCON, an environmental consulting organization, to gain both capital and growth opportunities. By 1989, the company had outgrown its facilities in Longview, moved to a 25,000 square foot facility in Kelso, Wash., and assumed management of EMCON’s San Jose laboratory operation.

By 1994, Columbia Analytical had more than 200 employees and sales of over $15 million. Our Jacksonville, Fla., laboratory was started during this period to give us a presence in the rapidly growing Southeast marketplace. The company also entered the air quality market by purchasing an air quality lab, Performance Analytical, located in Simi Valley, Calif.

In 1996, we acquired General Testing, a highly regarded laboratory in Rochester, N.Y., that gave us a strong presence in the Northeast marketplace.

In 1997, with more than 275 employees and annual sales of over $22 million, the Columbia Analytical management team orchestrated a leveraged buyout from EMCON and established the company with an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Columbia Analytical became an independent, employee-owned company on April 4, 1997.

In March of 1999, we purchased the assets of Ionics International, a dioxin testing laboratory in Houston, Texas. By the end of 1999, Columbia Analytical had more than 300 employees and $28 million in sales.

Cutting the ribbon on the Kelso laboratory expansionDuring the late 2000s, Columbia Analytical completed the expansion of two of its facilities doubling the size of both the Kelso and Simi Valley laboratories. Kelso’s expansion included the addition of pharmaceutical testing, ultra-trace level testing for endocrine disruptors, and personal care and pharmaceutical product (PPCP) testing in environmental samples as well as food samples. Its expansion also allowed us to sell our Phoenix, Ariz., laboratory allowing better use of the increased capacity and recognized economies of scale at our Kelso facility. Simi Valley added specialized odor testing, and expanded its water and soil capabilities. The high resolution laboratory in Jacksonville, Fla., the specialty laboratory in Tucson, Ariz., and the full service laboratory in Rochester, N.Y., all moved to larger facilities. Columbia Analytical significantly increased network capacity and capabilities following these moves and additions.

On November 1, 2011, Columbia Analytical is acquired by ALS Group, a subsidiary of ALS Limited, and becomes ALS Environmental. The ALS Group (ALS) is a global, diversified testing and inspection services company with a presence in five continents, offering a broad range of services to leading global companies.

Looking to the future, ALS Environmental continues to develop better ways to serve its expanding client base. This is achieved in lower detection limits, pursuits of new markets such as pharmaceutical and odor testing, quality initiatives, and heightened responsiveness to emerging client needs. From its modest start in 1986, to its current status as an industry leader, ALS Environmental is poised for continued growth and stands committed to meeting the ever-changing needs of our customers.

Vision of ALS Environmental

ALS Environmental applies creative thinking and strategic integration of our talents to be the best in all business endeavors we pursue. The Company is a leader in our industry demonstrated by:

  • Unprecedented customer satisfaction
  • Exceptional technical excellence
  • Superior quality systems