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Published in slightly different form in U.S. 1 Newspaper on July
19, 2000. All rights
New Jersey Analytical Laboratories
Drinking a glass of water can be a precarious matter
in New Jersey, as Jamie Latham and Allen Thomas know well. These two
ex-Envirogen employees have taken groundwater and well water samples
that would scare the bejeezus out of anyone. "The worst I’ve ever
seen is in Linden," says Latham. "We took a groundwater
opened the lid, and brown fumes came up."
While water treatment plants filter out most of the contaminants
in New Jersey’s water sources, well water can be more risky, a concern
that prompted the state assembly to pass a bill last May requiring
homeowners to test their well water for contaminants when they sell
or lease a home.
All that unsavory news is easier to wash down, however, knowing that
environmental scientists like Latham and Thomas are keeping watch.
New Jersey Analytical Laboratories, a start-up the two scientists
launched at 1590 Reed Road, provides drinking water analysis to
and environmental or industry groups alike.
An environmental testing lab isn’t your usual kind of start-up, but
Latham and Thomas, who have been friends practically since childhood,
says there is plenty of work to be done. "In the early 1980s,
with the environmental regulations like Superfund, there was a
amount of money poured into making industries more environmentally
friendly," says Thomas. "Over the years, with some easing
of the regulations, labs had lowered their prices, and the market
was saturated, dragging the lab prices down so low that many
or left. The environmental economy really drilled many out, and in
the last year we’ve seen that lab pricing is now starting to rise
back up. At the same time, the state and federal limitations have
been getting stricter. Our drinking water is a limited resource, and
environmental contaminants are becoming more prevalent because there’s
more industry." Meanwhile, now that water companies must issue
annual water quality reports, consumers are starting to be more
Earlier this year, environmentalists analyzing federal data concluded
that somewhere between 700,000 and 1.6 million New Jersey residents
are drinking tap water with unsafe levels of arsenic. Latham and
have often found MTBEs (an additive in gasoline that mixes easily
with water) and other volatile organic materials lingering around
well water systems. "These gas stations have old tanks that have
leaked, and that goes into drinking water around the town," says
Thomas. "The worst that I have seen is a strong presence of
MTBE, and TCE, a chemical degreaser used by dry cleaners that was
popular in the 1950s. It’s ultimately taken off the market, but what
was dumped in the ground is still there."
"You wouldn’t believe how many people have had that in their
water," says Latham. "There’s no doubt about it, it’s a
and you don’t want to be drinking it. It’s a relatively cheap system
to purify the water, you just have to know if it’s there. That’s our
Earth, wind, and water all fall under the domain of NJAL. Latham and
Thomas can analyze drinking water, waste water, groundwater from
occurring aquifers, soil samples, and finally air. With $200,000 worth
of high-tech equipment ("We have our houses in it and every penny
saved," says Latham), they can analyze bacteria levels, pH, salts,
minerals, nutrients, and residue levels in any given sample, and can
also spot volatile organics (such as MTBE) and the presence of
metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic. Oddly enough, only one out
of the five employees that work here need to be out in the field on
any given day. "Laboratories operate differently from other
says Thomas. "You can run around and do your sales and quoting
during the day, and the lab runs itself at night and we evaluate it
the next day."
NJAL is certified by the State of New Jersey and competes for
by state organizations, but they currently have a dozen private
including a $50,000 stream study for a large environmental consulting
firm in Princeton and a job with an environmental engineering firm
in Central Jersey worth $200,000. The company also does a lot of work
for private homeowners and has six or seven home inspection companies
on their client list.
When NJAL opened in February, Thomas and Latham already had a line
at the door. In 1994 the two had been hired to build a analytical
program at Envirogen, the environmental remediation company at 4100
Quakerbridge Road. Although the lab supported a corps of engineers
in research and development, Envirogen never intended to get into
the commercial lab market, says Thomas, which was why he and Latham
left. "We had to turn away so much work because Envirogen was
not in the lab business," he says, "and obviously Jamie and
I wanted to be."
Since 1988, in fact, Thomas and Latham have been on parallel tracks
— in 1988, they met at Chyun Associates in Princeton, a lab under
the directorship of Mike Wright, and in 1991 both hopped over to
There’s even some evidence to suggest that the link between these
two entrepreneurs goes back further.
Thomas attended Ewing High and earned his BS in biology from Rider,
Class of 1988. He and his wife Robin have two children. Latham grew up
in Pennington and Lambertville and went to high school in Hopewell.
He earned his degree in biology from Rutgers University, Class of
1990, and is married to a special education teacher. Both their
fathers were engineers at RCA in the 1960s, and Latham and Thomas say
known "of" each other since the late 1970s.
While studying biology, however, Thomas was also serving as in the
Army Reserve, which gave him an unusual perspective on his profession.
"When I first started out in the industry I just looked at the
testing job as a job," says Thomas, "but while I was going
through college, I was trying to understand about life and the natural
balance in the environment. When you get into environmental analysis,
you discover the contaminants that ruin that process. I’m a major
in the Army Reserve so I have a chance to see a lot of places in the
world that people can’t see, that are pristine and untouched, and
that has an impact when you come to New Jersey, which is so densely
packed. Everything you use from shampoo to laundry detergent has to
be dealt with to make it pure again."
Even before Thomas and Latham had an office or lab, two clients had
given them letters of commitment. The pair installed everything with
their bare hands on nights and weekends. Thomas’ wife is the office
manager. Most of the office is funded through their savings, but the
partners also received some commercial back-up. "We pretty much
we knew where to get the equipment for the best price," says
"If we use the best tools, we can put our resources better
Although strictly in the business of testing, Thomas, for his part,
would like to play a role in cleaning up the heavily industrialized
areas in northern Jersey around Carteret. "A lot of the samples
that I’ve analyzed are scary," says Thomas. "It’s hard to
understand how someone could contaminate the earth in that way and
just leave it, just pour pure chemicals down the drain. We’ve all
seen samples that are just completely toxic. When we do the
engineering analysis, we’re playing an integral role in cleaning
Leftover industrial pollutants are a problem, says Latham, but
is a potential hazard to the environment as well. "The one thing
that concerns me about the environment is the development that’s going
on right now," says Latham, "the Toll Brothers just buying
up all the land. I think once you start moving earth around, you start
messing with the aquifers and the watershed changes, and you don’t
see the full impact for another 20 years."
— Melinda Sherwood
Suite 102A, Pennington 08534. Jamie Latham, Allen Thomas, partners.
609-737-3477; fax, 609-737-3052.
84601. Rick Davis, vice president, marketing. 800-769-7638. Home
After several months at 600 Alexander Road, the five person office
of a database company moved back to its headquarters in Provo, Utah.
Founded in 1987, it provides database solutions for publishers.
County, 332 Ford Avenue, Milltown 08550. Richard F. Sheridan,
director. 732-247-8155. www.arc-middlesex.org.
The not-for-profit agency moved from 225 North Center Drive in North
Brunswick to Milltown and has a new phone and fax. About 240 people
work for this office that promotes equal opportunities for people
A 105, Mount Laurel 08054. Moon S. Ko. 856-231-0301; fax,
Moon Ko moved his dental studio from Lawrenceville to Mount
Laurel. He fashions porcelain cosmetics, crowns, bridges, and
Lenox Drive, Building One, Lawrenceville 08648.
The headquarters office of this business travel service closed in
early July. It had lost a major pharmaceutical account, and another
major account, McGraw-Hill, has been transferred to a Piscataway
Two American Express travel offices are still in Princeton and one
is on Olden Avenue in Trenton. The Hulfish Street office is for
travel, and 10 Nassau Street has separate sections for vacation travel
and for small-to-medium sized business, says Victor Kurynow in the
business section (609-921-3888).
08902. Fred Chalmers, assistant vice president. 732-297-7337; fax,
Formerly known as Cosmair, the sign on the door at this 150-person
plant is now L’Oreal. "For better worldwide name recognition,"
says a spokesperson. Cosmair is the parent company.
105, Princeton 08540. Karen Smith-Moore, branch manager. 609-243-8960;
fax, 609-243-8970. www.thecittonegroup.com.
Formerly known as the Cittone Institute this personnel placement
has changed its name to the Career Resource Group. It no longer works
exclusively for the Cittone Institute, but it was getting calls meant
for the school division of Cittone that had moved out of Canal Pointe.
Patel, chief of operations. 732-274-2400; fax, 732-274-8989.
Invamed, which manufactures and markets generic drugs and
products, has been acquired by Geneva and has changed its name.
Lawrenceville 08648. Ann Garwig, executive director.
Formerly known as the Main Street Project, the new name for this
civic improvement organization is now known as Lawrenceville
Main Street. (U.S. 1, February 17, 1999).
Point, Suite A-28, Pennington 08534. Ed Scanlan, manager.
fax, 609-730-0222. www.mandtbank.com.
The name of this mortgage office changed from CFS Mortgage when it
was bought by M&T Bank (Manufacturers, Traders & Trust).
2B, Suite 200, Lawrenceville 08648. 609-896-8404; fax,
Formerly known as Raymond Karsan Associates, this executive search
and human resources consulting firm has changed its name.
Trenton 08638. Lisa Snyder. 609-538-1943; fax, 609-538-0169. Home
This trade group was formerly known as WEB Network of Employee Benefit
Professionals. Lisa Snyder also has a Trenton-based business, Kistler
Box 591, New Brunswick 08903-0591. John Matuska, president.
fax, 732-247-9888. Home page: www.saintpetersuh.com.
Marc T. Edwards MD is the new medical director. An alumnus of the
University of Washington and the University of Colorado School of
Medicine, he did his residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
in Philadelphia and went to the University of Connecticut for the
Executive MBA Program. He has had administrative positions at Blue
Cross Blue Shield of Connecticut, AETNA Health Plans, and CIGNA
and was most recently manager of health care consulting at Ernst &
Young in Hartford.
of the Dayton Wawa.
engineer plant of the central heating plant at Lawrenceville School.
building maintenance division of Commodities Corp. on Poor Farm Road.
senior secretary at Educational Testing Services.
credit department at Dow Jones & Company on Ridge Road.
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