Eurofins Eichrom - Scientists and entrepreneurs.
Eurofins Eichrom Laboratories specialise in the measurement of radioactivity, chemical compounds and asbestos in radioactive or potentially-radioactive samples, and are one of the leading laboratories in Europe in their field. Located near Rennes in north-west France, the laboratories were inaugurated in November 2003.
The delivery of Eurofins Eichrom's services, which are dedicated to providing reliable, impartial and high-quality results for all those involved in the nuclear industry, is the result of the interactions, spanning many years, between people from different cultures and backgrounds, and particularly radiochemists and entrepreneurs.
Gary Comer and his entrepreneurial spirit are where the story of the Eichrom Group first begins. In 1963, when he was 36 years old, Gary Comer and four associates created Lands’End, a mail-order company initially based in a warehouse in the suburbs of Chicago.
Starting from nothing, Gary gradually built one of the leading mail-order companies in the USA, which was ultimately acquired by the Sears Group in 2002.
Gary was a philanthropist, and donated much of his fortune to good causes such as the education of disadvantaged children through the creation of educational centres (Gary Comer Youth Center), a foundation for research into climate change, and the funding of a paediatric care wing at Chicago hospital.
As an entrepreneur, Gary worked with other business start-up experts to create his own risk-capital company called Gary Comer Incorporated. GCI invested in projects and in promising individuals to support and assist them to develop their company under optimal conditions and with a long-term vision.
Since Gary passed away in 2006, Stephanie, his daughter, has been closely involved in managing the various philanthropic foundations and Guy, his son, works alongside William Schleicher in developing GCI's portfolio companies.
In 1992, GCI invested in a company that had just been founded by Phil Horwitz, called Eichrom. Phil set up the company to commercialise the first chromatographic extraction resins that he developed during his work at the Argonne National Laboratory: Sr (strontium), TRU (TransUranic) and UTEVA (Uranium and TEtraValent Actinide) resins.
These resins, which have become essential for radioactivity measuring laboratories, are used to specifically separate the radioactive elements of interest, in order to identify and quantify them precisely and quickly.
Over the period of just a few years, Eichrom resins became the reference product in the field of measuring radioactivity for various purposes: monitoring the discharge of nuclear waste into the environment, medical/radio toxicology monitoring for personnel exposed to ionising radiation, the characterisation of waste produced during the decommissioning & dismantling of nuclear sites, etc.
Eichrom resins are referenced in many French and international standards and are now used around the world by all radioactivity-measuring laboratories:IRSN, CEA, EDF in France, EPA and DOE in the USA, NPL in the United Kingdom, Bfs in Germany, KINS in Korea, JCAC in Japan…
In 1997, and in order to provide a service closer to its various European clients, Eichrom set up its European office, Eichrom Europe, in Paris (France).
Since the publication of European directive 98/83, routine checks of the radioactivity of water intended for human consumption are now mandatory. This legislation gave Eichrom the opportunity to create its own measuring laboratories in Europe and to apply its expertise and know-how in the field of measuring radioactivity to the European market.
Eichrom Europe was set up at the end of 2003 just south of Rennes (France) in purpose-built premises set up specially for its new service delivery activities.
Recruited in 2001, and the man responsible for setting up Eichrom laboratories, Patrice Letessier was appointed Managing Director of Eichrom Europe in 2007 with the task of focussing the laboratories' activities on radioactivity measurement services. These services are marketed under the trademark: "Laboratoires Eichrom". To operate more effectively, this activity was split off from Eichrom's European resin distribution business.
Eichrom Laboratories are now much more than a specialist in measuring radioactivity in water; they rapidly expanded their services to cover environmental matrices (since 2006) and the matrices produced during the decommissioning & dismantling of nuclear facilities (since 2010).
In addition to radioactivity measurements, Eichrom Laboratories now perform chemical and asbestos analyses on radioactive or potentially-radioactive samples, and offer a "one-stop shop" to players in the nuclear industry.
With sustained, two-digit growth and more than 20% of its sales generated internationally, Eichrom Laboratories are one of the key players in their sector.
In a business in which trust is a key component, the impartiality and expertise of Eichrom satisfies the expectations of both civil society and industrial players, and plays its part in ensuring that the nuclear industry can develop safely and sustainably.