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Humble beginnings of a global firm September 26, 2017

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Charles W. Gehrke General.
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A company that got its start with an MU professor and two MU graduates is now poised to widen its global reach.

Charles W. Gehrke started ABC Labs with David Stalling and Jim Ussary in 1968 in Columbia, Missouri. Soon it will be a part of Eurofins Scientific, a Brussels-based firm with EUR 2.54 in annual revenues, 30,000 employees and 375 sites in 41 countries, according to a Eurofins news release announcing the acquisition.

The humble beginnings of this global firm are highlighted in the book “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.”  A biography of Charles Gehrke, it walks you through his scientific adventure as well as his personal life. Starting with Charles working in the farm fields of Canal Lewisville, Ohio, in the foothills of the Appalachians the book continues through his life to the creation of a scientific team that analyzed the moon rocks from the NASA moon landings and then on to the founding of a firm that employed 300 people before it was sold in 2015 to EAG Laboratories.

The book is a biography of Charles Gehrke and walks you through his scientific adventure which starts with Charles working in the farm fields of Canal Lewisville, Ohio, in the foothills of the Appalachians and follows his life to the creation of a scientific team that analyzed the moon rocks from the NASA moon landings and then on to the founding of a firm that employed 300 people before it was sold in 2015 to EAG Laboratories.

The book is available in Columbia at Yellow Dog Bookshop, 8 S. Ninth St., the Columbia Mall bookstore Barnes & Noble and the bookstore at Boone County History and Culture Center at 3801 Ponderosa St.

You can get it electronically from Barnes & Noble, amazon.com or buy it via this website and you’ll get it by mail for $20 plus tax and shipping.Buy Now Button

 

 

ABC Labs’ CEO Byron Hill steps down September 7, 2011

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Uncategorized.
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ABC Labs saw Bryon Hill, its CEO depart suddenly according to reports on Sept. 2, 2011 in an article headlined “Hill retires as CEO of ABC Labs,” by Jacob Barker in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

But as the book From the Melon Fields to the Moon shows, ABC Labs has had many unusual departures of CEOs and ups and downs.

The company was started by Charles W. Gehrke with Jim Ussary, who would go on to become its first CEO, David Stalling, who would later work for ABC Labs and spin off a company from the firm, and a fourth man, rarely mentioned, who was bought out early in ABC Lab’s history.

Ussary headed up the firm from its inception in 1968 until 1975, the same year the company posted its first positive net income, $86,501. Ralph Waltz took over as CEO, but some say he was forced out in 1990. By then the company posted $1.1 million in net profit. Larry Stambaugh took over until 1992, with his shift from leadership preceded by a vicious and very public stockholders fight, described in detail in a July 24, 1992, Columbia Daily Tribune article headlined, “ABCs of a corporate battle,” written by Theodore P. Roth.

The next CEO was Jake Halliday, now the CEO of the Missouri Innovation Center. Hill took over from Halliday in 2004 and oversaw the company during an expansion phase which has included moving to Discovery Ridge, expanding its campus on Interstate 70.

Yet, despite the history of ABC Labs, the company has thrived through the decades, going from one employee to its current 350-person staff.

The story of how the company has continued, with its ups and downs, is part of the story of Charles W. Gehrke’s life in the book he wrote prior to his 2009 death, From the Melon Fields to the Moon. The first three chapters of the book are available here.

 

Charles W. Gehrke December 30, 2008

Posted by diannaobrien in Charles W. Gehrke General.
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The web site is designed to highlight the life and accomplishments of Charles W. Gehrke, 1917-2009, and the book, “From the Melon Fields to the Moon,” an autobiography he wrote with Dianna Borsi O’Brien.

The manuscript for the book is complete and a publisher is being sought.

Charles grew up poor, laboring in melon fields as a field hand. After attending Ohio State University, in 1950, he joined the faculty at the University of Missouri-Columbia. While there, Charles put together a team of chemists who developed a methodology that led them to be tapped to analyze the moon rocks returned by NASA’s Apollo 1969-1972 moon landings.

In 1968, Charles, David Stalling and Jim Ussary founded Analytical Bio-chemistry Laboratories, now ABC Labs, to capitalize on those techniques and others they’d developed for agricultural chemical analysis. Today, ABC Labs is a thriving corporation, employing more than 300 workers .

After retiring in 1987 at 70, Charles pursued the Cancer Research Center a quest for cancer bio-markers. His work in this area continues to be cited. During his career, Charles co-authored 11 books and nearly 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications.

He was also a dedicated friend and family man, able to recall from memory the birth dates of all his grandchildren and even his great-grandchild as well the contact information for dozens of his friends, colleagues and former students.

This website is dedicated to the life of Charles W. Gehrke, which is highlighted in the forthcoming book, “The Melon Fields to the Moon.”