Madison-based Quest Diagnostics unveiled its new state-of-the-art, 200,000-square-foot “lab of the future” Thursday to much fanfare — and the promise of 1,350 new jobs.And Quest did it in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
Jerseyans who have witnessed the exodus of high-profile Garden State companies have a right to be suspicious of such a huge out-of-state investment — more than $60 million estimated for this facility in particular.
But Steve Rusckowski, the CEO and president of Quest, was quick to assuage any concerns about dubious implications for its status as a New Jersey business.
“The way we organize our company is (into) eight regions,” Rusckowski explained. “The center of the North region is in Massachusetts. The center of the East region is a facility in Teterboro, which is almost larger than what we’ve got (at the new facility).
“We have to have our processing close to where the business is, where our customers are positioned. … That gets us the results back the next morning. We distribute our work depending on where (we have) the volume.”
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In other words, this is part of a different region of operations for the growing Quest Diagnostics, which has revenue that’s projected to exceed $7 billion this year.
Nothing from New Jersey is moving to this other region, Rusckowski reiterated. Along with that Teterboro facility, which he said is responsible for some of the innovation that he’s bringing into the Marlborough facility, the CEO’s Madison office will remain well-entrenched in the state.
The new facility, expected to be fully operational by the second quarter of 2015, will house operations and employees from approximately half a dozen of the company’s clinical laboratories in the aforementioned northern region. Quest Diagnostics will seat its first New England diagnostic research and development center in the facility.
The unveiling comes almost exactly a year after Quest Diagnostics acquired Massachusetts-based ConVerge Diagnostic Services from strategic investment company Water Street Healthcare Partners.
Upon that 2013 acquisition, one of a few purchases the company made in the region, Quest Diagnostics said it was looking to integrate the ConVerge laboratory into the Marlborough facility, which was then still under construction.
Quest Diagnostics also last year completed its acquisition of the clinical and anatomic pathology outreach businesses of UMass Memorial Health Care. This new facility is expected to further collaboration with the UMass Memorial system.
Another partnership this move advances is with the prominent Germany-based Siemens Healthcare. Together with another company, Inpeco, Siemens worked on a contract to build an automated system for the Marlborough facility.
The system was designed to allow Quest Diagnostics to process several thousand patient blood samples an hour. It will feature a 200-meter-long automation track, one of the largest ever built.
It’s the first of its sort to be deployed by Quest Diagnostics.
Yet it may not be the last.
Rusckowski thinks there’s a good possibility for this state-of-the-art setup to be replicated in its facilities in New Jersey and elsewhere.
“That’s our hope,” he said. “We’re starting here. The way innovation works is you have these early pioneers. And we’re going to burn in, if you will, this new investment here. But once we work out the kinks, our hope will be to deploy some of the same capabilities into our other facilities.”
Ultimately, what this Marlborough facility lets Quest Diagnostics do is try something different. Rusckowski said it’s nice to have a blank slate to work with.
“Some of our other locations grew up over time … places that grow up over time get (segmented),” he said. “We were able to design the workflow in the way we want here. … We didn’t build a brand new building, but we gutted it and laid out the workflow in a much more efficient way for us.”
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