Chemic Laboratories, Inc. – An Interview with Joseph St. Laurent, President and CSO

SOUTH SHORE BUSINESS REVIEW - chemic laboratories logo

​Author: Sam Blanchette, BSU Student

Question: Are you from this local area?
Answer: Yes, I was born in Middleboro, have lived in Lakeville for over 30 years and I’m a Bridgewater State College graduate, class of 1988.

Q: Tell me about your business. Why did you choose this line of business?
A: I knew that as an undergraduate student to get a job in chemistry that I had to have an internship at the same time. Though at this point in time, Bridgewater did not offer any internships so I knew I would have to find my own. I worked in a small environmental lab for about two years while I was going to school. About a year after graduation, I worked at a small research facility and found out I enjoyed pharmaceutical research more than environmental science. I then pushed the idea to my superiors that I wanted to begin my own division of the company to which their reply after some consideration was a firm “no”. I replied by saying I had an angel investor interested who would then help me to start the company; Chemic Laboratories Inc.

Q: When did it start? What year?
A: January 13, 1998

Q: What was it that made you want to start this business?
A: I never really liked working for anyone and always believed in collaboration more than anything else. Throughout all my jobs and high school or college, I was always viewed as a leadership figure, so when the time came to accelerate my career I concluded why would I put in all my resources and efforts into making another organization successful and that I could build a team and do it ourselves. 

Q: What was the toughest thing you went through when opening?
A: The toughest part about opening the business was trying to make ends meet while beginning operations of the company. Assets needed to be liquidated to cover expenses until we were able to receive compensation for our first contract. It also took us very long for us to get our first contract because it takes a while for the FDA to come to the lab and conduct its audit.

Q: What inspired you to keep going as you were getting the business off the ground?
A: What we do when we develop the programs that we do for sponsors, every single day we are touching people’s lives. Sometimes when you get caught up in your work it’s easy to forget the reasons behind doing them, but every once in a while a product will be involved in a clinical trial that will have the potential to save someone’s life. Every year we get to see a half a dozen or a dozen miracles, and that’s what keeps us going into work every day.

Q: What was your most difficult challenge?
A: If you’re talking to a business executive or owner and they built it from scratch, you begin to realize there is no off time. You also have to reconcile that there will not be a separation between work and family since the two need to become seamlessly intertwined for continuing success.

Q: If you had to start over from day 1 what would you have done differently?
A: I don’t think I can answer that because everything that we have done we would do again. All of our successes and mistakes have led us into the position that we are today.

Q: What makes you stand out?
A: Absolutely hands down, customer service. When a company comes to us they’re not just getting a contract or a package, they’re getting a true solution to their problem and were going to stay with them all the way through that problem.

Q: What is the number 1 way you currently bring in new customers?
A: Our philosophy is that every single project manager and manager within the company, their job is also to sell the service. It’s all about selling the expertise, not necessarily selling the service.

Q: If you had to look 6 months to a year in the future where would you like to see your business be?
A: That’s too short a time. I tell most of my staff that their job is to take care of today, tomorrow, and the end of the month. My job is to look at a year, two years, and five years down the road. If you are not thinking two years down the road, by the time you get there it will have already passed you by. If I look two years down the road we will have hopefully spun out two additional companies out of the company. 

Chemic Laboratories, Inc. is located at: 480 Neponset Street, Building 7, Canton MA

To contact Chemic Laboratories, Inc.:
Telephone: 781-821-5600
Twitter: @chemiclabs