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MVTL reports increasing sophistication in analysis, exemplary logistics

Employs 170 full time; nears 70th anniversary

NEW ULM — An increasing sophistication in analysis is one trend at a local company of long standing and expanding capacity: Minnesota Valley Testing Labs (MVTL).

MVTL owner Tom Berg enthusiastically engages in technical jargon as he walks me around machinery that looks as if it came from the set of a sci fi movie or beneath the covers of a sci fi novel.

I am shown a liquid chromatography triple quadrupole system that detects low-level organics, for example pesticide residue; a gas chromatograph for measuring petroleum products; a liquid chromatography system that can analyse vitamins; an optical emissions spectrometer; an inductively coupled plasma spectrometer for measuring metals…

To the uninitiated, these look and sound intimidating – but the point of the tour is to showcase a facility of increasing versatility, accuracy and reach, whose technical complexity is matched by impeccable logistics.

Founded in 1951, MVTL is a diverse group of chemical and biological analytical laboratories offering environmental, agricultural, food science and energy technology testing services.

Centrally located in the Midwest and serving customers throughout the United States and Canada, MVTL is certified by a host of regional and national agencies.

Services include but are not limited to:

agricultural testing (basal stalk nitrate, distiller’s grain

feeds/forage/pet food, soil fertility, manure, nematode, pesticide residue, plant tissue);

energy testing (coal, mine soils, refuse derived fuels, environmental, fuel quality analysis, waste oil/fuel analysis, biomass, crude oil testing);

environmental testing (biosolids, drinking water, soil, waste characterization; wastewater; water);

food science (environmental monitoring; food chemistry; microbiology, mycotoxins/allergens, nutritional labeling);

on-site sampling (equipment rental; landfill gas monitoring; monitoring wells; septic system inspections; site inspections; soil remediation; surface water/lake, wastewater, wastewater flow studies).

New and growing fields of analysis are in particular pet food and hemp.

The business is driven by several key factors, including saving customers money and ensuring safety and regulatory compliance, notes Berg.

In just one example, soil analysis, MVTL employs “incredible technology” for making and saving money for farmers by testing the fertility of soil and making sure they fertilize properly, says Berg.

Because of the seasonality of the business cycle, MVTL maintains redundant capacities to ensure timeliness and quick turnaround.

Samples make it into the lab and back out in two days, says Berg.

MVTL has been installing a new lab information management system (LIMS) to log samples, track data and generate reports. The system “communicates” with lab instruments directly.

“It makes us more efficient, better communicators; controls prices and gives our clientele a much better product, a great data quality at a reasonable price,” says Berg.

MVTL is a sizable local employer, with 170 full-time positions and between 25 and 35 part-time positions depending on the season.

MVTL offers a diversity of employment opportunities. In addition to upper-end positions in analytical sciences, such as microbiologists or chemists, it employs computer specialists, a five-person sales staff, a four-person maintenance team, finance and clerical people, couriers, etc.

“The people who wash the glassware are as essential to our business as the people who do the analysis,” said Berg.

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