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Profile: Exact Scientific

An exact science

l-r: Tanya Keith, Lani Gabriel, Tricia Abernathy, and James Allen. (Staff photo)

How lessons from the farm forged a world-class company in just seven years By Steve Hortegas

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hile growing up, Kent Oostra worked side-by-side with his dad— in a milking parlor, putting up fences, and riding on a tractor. “Treat people well, and you’ll do fine,” he heard his dad always say. And fine the son did. Within seven years of its 2006 launch by co-founders Oostra and Travis Walkup, Exact Scientific Testing Laboratory in Bellingham’s Irongate district grosses more than $1 million a year. The company operates debt-free except for a new $30,000 piece of lab equipment. The lab provides independent, 52 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM

third-party, microbiology and chemistry testing for leading food, natural food, nutraceutical, agricultural, and environmental clients to comply with rising government regulations. Exact Scientific continues to weather economic storms with yearly profits and growth, as it attracts clients ranging from local to international. Recently, Exact Scientific became the testing partner for one of the world’s largest third-party accrediting bodies. It gets back to Oostra’s dad. “Hard work, treating people with respect, and putting your family first. That’s what I remember,” said Oostra, Exact Scientific’s CEO and laboratory director. Walkup likewise instilled fam-

ily values into the company. Prior to earning a chemistry degree, he worked in his family’s business, the Fountain Bakery, where they were passionate about hard work, good service, and high-quality food. On this blue-collar values foundation, the co-founders built a mission: “A higher standard of laboratory testing.” Example: A shipment of blueberries crossing the U.S.-Canadian border requires cost-effective certification to ensure that the batch meets international standards of safety. Tests are conducted at Exact Scientific’s state-of-the art laboratory for product shelf life, nutritional labeling accuracy, and other issues impacting food safety

Business Pulse Magazine: Summer 2013  

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