Year in Review: A Look Back on 2016

By Babcock Labs CEO, Allison Mackenzie

I think it’s safe to say that 2016 has been a rollercoaster year. As we anxiously anticipate what 2017 has in store, I would like to reflect on some of Babcock Labs’ highlights of this past year.

Babcock Laboratories was proud to start off 2016 by announcing that it was once again NELAP accredited. After California lost recognition as a NELAP Accreditation Body, Babcock Labs sought NELAP accreditation through Oregon’s Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP). This was an excellent way to start off 2016, as it reaffirmed for our clients our commitment to high quality, reliable data and ethical laboratory practices.

At the beginning of the year, the California ELAP’s Environmental Laboratory Technical Advisory Committee (ELTAC) underwent a rather significant reconstitution and in March, I was appointed by Cindy Forbes, the Director of the Division of Drinking Water, to serve as a voting member. I am very grateful for this appointment because throughout the year I have had the honor of representing small to mid-size independent, California-based commercial laboratories in the on-going reorganization of CA ELAP. Part of ELTAC’s mission is to partner with ELAP to create and maintain a high quality accreditation program that meets the needs of the laboratory community, California regulatory agencies, and data users. This year, ELTAC worked to propose a standard that would help ELAP meet those high quality expectations. In May, with the help of some of my esteemed fellow committee members and industry colleagues, I wrote a white paper in support of California adoption of the The NELAC Institute (TNI) Standard, and in August I presented a TNI work plan timeline to the committee. All of our hard work paid off in September when ELAP announced that it had made a preliminary determination to develop regulations incorporating the 2016 TNI Standard, Volume 1. This is a major step toward meaningful reform for CA ELAP.

Of course, I am not the only staff member who represented Babcock Labs within our industry this year. In August, Babcock Labs’ Senior Chemist, David Schiessel, and Corporate Communications Director, Alexandra Chrystal, both gave presentations at the 2016 Environmental Measurement Symposium in Orange County. Additionally, our Laboratory Director of Operations, Paul Monroy, attended the annual International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) conference. Babcock Labs also participated in two important application notes collaborations this year. We collaborated with Phenomenex on application notes for EPA methods 544 and 545—methods of importance for the upcoming UCMR4—and with Horizon Technology on application notes for 4-methylimidzaole (4-MEI).

Despite some winter rain in the past few months, 2016 also demonstrated that the California drought has no intention of letting up. What’s more, disasters like the Flint water crisis fortified the importance of public access to clean drinking water. In May we published an article on what California could learn from the Flint water crisis and in July we wrote an article investigating the drought’s effects on water quality in Southern California. While these water issues and the implications for public health and the environment are disheartening, we were encouraged by the news that California will likely be the first state to embrace recycled wastewater as a potable drinking water supply.

In 2016 Babcock Labs also carried on its legacy of corporate social responsibility. In addition to providing our clients with excellent analytical testing services, Babcock Labs is also committed to serving its community. For example, throughout the year we partnered with the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and United Way of the Inland Valleys (UWIV) on projects and programs that aim to engage and encourage young women to pursue education and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). We also hosted STEM college students from the University of La Verne who are interested in becoming laboratory technicians and analysts.

And finally, 2016 marked our 2nd year as a 100 percent employee-owned company! We celebrated our status as an ESOP in October with a month full of festivities. Our transition to an ESOP has added value to our clients, our community, and our staff.

In more ways than one, this year has been one for the books. And while I’m sure many of us can’t wait to say goodbye to 2016, I would like to close out this year with some gratitude. Thank you to our clients who trust us to meet their unique testing service needs. We truly value your business. Thank you to our vendors who support us in our mission to provide our clients with the Babcock Experience. We truly value your services. And last, but certainly not least, thank you to our Babcock team. I truly value your talent, professionalism, and teamwork. I wish you all a successful and prosperous new year!