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ABC Labs’ 50th Anniversary Celebrated August 17, 2018

Posted by diannaobrien in ABC Labs, Eurofins, Events.
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A business making it to 50 years in the same location and market is due to one thing: the hard work of the people said an executive at Eurofins, the company that now owns ABC Labs.

Tim Oostdyk, Group Senior Vice President at Eurofins, made the comment at ABC Labs’ barbeque lunch celebration on Thursday, Aug. 9 at the company’s Discovery Ridge location.

At the event, he lauded ABC Labs founder the late Charles W. Gehrke for instilling the two guiding principles of the company: great science and a love for people.2018_08_09 ABC Labs 50th cake

The celebration included a cake marking the 50th anniversary of the company started in 1968.

Gehrke’s children were on hand for the celebration. Jon Gehrke is an orthopedic surgeon in Des Moines, Iowa, and Susan Gehrke Isaacson is an attorney and CPA in Minneapolis. Former board members and employees also attended.

Susan Isaacson and Jon Gehrke, the daughter and son of ABC Labs founder Charles W. Gehrke. They were on hand to celebrate ABC Lab's 50th anniversary on Aug. 9, 2018.

Jon Gehrke and Susan Isaacson, the children of ABC Labs founder Charles W. Gehrke. They were on hand to celebrate ABC Lab’s 50th anniversary on Aug. 9, 2018.

Oostdyk said the combination of people skills and scientific drive is crucial to the success in the scientific contract testing business which requires fulfilling the demands of customers and conducting challenging scientific research.

ABC Labs was bought out by  EAG Labs in 2015 and then purchased by Eurofins Scientific in 2017.

Back in the day

ABC Labs got its start in 1968 through those principles of science and people skills and the hard work of three people, Gehrke, Jim Ussary and David Stalling, two of Gehrke’s former graduate students.

Each man brought his own science and skills to the job.

For the first six months, the company operated out of a desk in Ussary’s home. His contribution to the firm’s development included his scientific problem solving and sales skills.

Stalling was a whiz at scientific instruments and literally helped build the first few buildings at ABC Labs out of materials recycled from his father’s work clearing away buildings for the creation of Interstate 70.

Gehkre said he raised funds to get the company off the ground, collecting $200,000 within six months, an amount which would be more than $1.4 million today.

From those origins, ABC Labs grew until it employed 300 people prior to its 2015 buyout by EAG Labs and the 2017 purchase by Eurofins.

A farmer to scientist story

The humble beginnings — and ups and downs — of this global firm are detailed in the book “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks.” 

The biography of Gehrke describes his tough start and his ups and downs as well. He grew up in the tiny town of Canal Lewisville, Ohio, having to work in neighboring farm fields to help support his family. His ticket out of farming literally came from his oldest brother, who put him on a train to Ohio State University, telling him he wanted a better life than farming for his brother.

From there, his education and scientific career would propel Gehrke to head up a scientific team that analyzed the moon rocks from the NASA Apollo moon landings and found ABC Labs.

Learn More

To read more about the path Charles took from a small town in Ohio to founder of a scientific firm, the book, “From Melon Fields to Moon Rocks,” is available at the following Columbia locations:


  • Barnes & Noble,
  • amazon.com or
  • This website by mail for $20 plus tax and shipping.Buy Now Button

If you’d like to hear more about Charles, ABC Labs and the writing of this book, Dianna O’Brien is available for talks and presentations.


Book published December 3, 2010

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Charles never stopped working in the field he loved — chromatography — even decades after his 1987 official retirement.

Chromatography: A Science of Discovery was published in September 2010, more than a year after he died in February 2009.

The book was published by John Wiley and Sons, is 410 pages and carries a price tag of $99.95. It can be purchased online here.

The book is an invaluable resource, according to the Wiley website. The site describes the book as follows: “Features contributions from more than 50 award-winning chromatographers, Chromatography: A Science of Discovery offers a multifaceted look at the development and maturation of this field … With numerous reference and an engaging series of voices, Chromatography: A Science of Discovery offers a diverse look at an essential area of science. It is a unique and invaluable resource for researchers, students, and other interested readers who seek a broader understanding of this field.”

When announcing the publication of Charles’s book, his daughter Susan Gehrke Isaacson applauded the efforts of Drs. Deb Chance and Tom Mawhinney at the University of Missouri in getting the book through the publisher.

Contributors to the book also include Viktor G. Berezkin, Jaroslav Janak, Thomas L. Chester, Ernst Bayer, Walter G. Jennings, Ronald E. Majors, J. Jack Kirkland, Klaus K. Unger, Heinz Engelhardt, Gerhard Schomburg, William H. Pirkle, Christopher J. Welch, Daniel W. Armstrong, Jerker O. Porath, Jan B. Sjovall, David S. Hage, Pat Noland, Terry N. Hopper, Michael W. Dong, Yong Guo, Todd D. Maloney, Raymond N. Xu, Del Koch, Lyle Johnson, Pat Sandra, and Richard B. Van Breemen.

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.”