30 Years – a Founder’s Perspective

Stratech Scientific Ltd officially opened for business on the 10th of January 1983.

The company was started by myself, Sue Hallett and a colleague Trevor Schofield with whom I had been working with for
two years running a scientific consultancy service. This entailed locating scientific instruments and life science reagents for Universities, Pharmaceutical Companies and Research organisations throughout the UK and Europe.  Trevor’s background was Chemistry and mine Medical Research.

Many of the products we were asked to locate originated in the USA and were not easy to import into the UK, in particular temperature sensitive biological reagents.

Clients began to request that we not only located products for them but imported them on their behalf and the idea of “Stratech” was born. Originally the company was to be called Strata but a Companies House search revealed that this name was already registered so we modified it to Stratech.

Our first office was located in Mildmay Grove, North London on the top floor of a print works. We had an old manual typewriter and each Invoice, delivery note and address label had to be typed individually.

Once the documents were typed, I packed them and then took them to the post office for dispatch. Trevor had originally been in administration in the army so he proceeded to set up a manual system using a hand written ledger which we still have today. I can clearly remember him entering our first order from Glaxo at Barnard Castle with great excitement, we were on our way!

Getting biological reagents imported into the UK proved to be quite a challenge. They usually came into London Heathrow cargo terminal with a carrier called Flying Tigers and I would have to go to collect them, clear them through customs, repack them on ice and deliver straight to the customer. Customs clearance was always nerve racking and I clearly remember late one Friday afternoon, desperate to get the product to the customer before 5pm, trying to explain to a customs officer what a buffer was, only to be accused of trying to blind him with science!

The company started to grow, slowly at first but we soon gained the reputation of being able to locate and deliver difficult to obtain reagents.

One of the first products we sold was Rat Interferon from a small company in San Diego called Lee BioMolecular, interestingly today our product portfolio still contains Interferons but from different suppliers.

Over the years contacts and colleagues in industry and academia became invaluable in alerting us to important research trends. I spent a great deal of my time searching for innovative products which would be of interest to scientists in all areas of life science research.

One such product was “Geneclean” the first commercial kit to make use of the rapid, quantitative and specific binding of DNA by Glassmilk® either from gels or solutions. This was manufactured in California by BIO 101 and Stratech became their European distributor.

As the company grew we moved offices to Newington Green, although the move gave us much needed additional office space we did not have sufficient storage facilities for frozen products so additional cold storage space had to be rented close to Heathrow airport.  At this time we were distributing Promega products, many of which had to be stored at minus 80 degrees and were shipped on dry ice.

Since then the company has moved to three new locations, Luton Bedfordshire, Soham Cambridgeshire  and finally, our current facility in Newmarket Suffolk.

Although we now offer over 500,000 products, our main focus has always been primary and secondary antibodies. In 1984 we started the distribution of secondary antibodies from Jackson ImmunoResearch  Laboratories Inc. and in 2004 we formed a joint venture with them to form Jackson  ImmunoResearch Europe Ltd. This successful company is run from our facility in Newmarket where we stock and ship to research institutions and companies throughout Europe.

2007 saw the opening of Stratech APAC in Australia and the following year brought the inception of another joint venture between Stratech and Salimetrics LLC, who are a spin off from Penn State University.  Salimetrics LLC manufacture high sensitivity salivary assay kits for various biomarkers and they are recognized globally as the gold standard in saliva testing. Our Salimetrics UK office works closely with Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

So, where does 2013 find us? In a purpose built facility, complete with walk in cold rooms and a laboratory, nine of our staff members with PhD, MSc and  BSc qualifications and we are ISO 9001 2008 accredited. We have over 50 Suppliers, a highly motivated and committed team of employees and my two eldest children as directors of the company, Ian who has been with us since 1988 and Sharon who joined in 2006.

2013 will see the launch of our new website and the completion of our database containing comprehensive data on every single product we sell. This database represents over two years work by Dr Luke Scicluna and his team and will enable us to give the very best in customer service.

I would like to thank all of our customers and suppliers who have supported us over the last thirty years and will hopefully continue to do so over the next 30.

Sue Hallett

Managing Director


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