Med-Tox Northwest

Specialty: Asbestos, lead and indoor air quality testing and abatement, mainly on the West Coast
Owners: Judy Lurvey and Joe Darcy
2000 revenues: $1.5 million
Projected 2001 revenues: $1.5 million-$1.75 million
Location: Auburn

When people ask Judy Lurvey to get the lead out, she does.

Lurvey is co-owner of Med-Tox Northwest, an environmental consulting firm that has grown from four employees in 1991 to 25 employees — plus five part-timers — today.

Med-Tox deals exclusively with lead, asbestos and indoor air quality issues, performing laboratory tests, writing abatement plans and overseeing abatement work.

Over the years, it’s become an extremely competitive niche for a mid-size player like Med-Tox, says Lurvey. At one level, Med-Tox faces competition from “mom-and-pop” operations started by people let go by big cleanup firms after Superfund work faded. At another level, Med-Tox faces competition from those same big firms, which in the past shunned most asbestos and lead cleanups as small potatoes, but who now need the business.

Although Med-Tox is one of five firms awarded $1 million contracts to assist the Port of Seattle with Sea-Tac Airport expansion, large-scale public projects like that are rare, says Lurvey.

Smaller projects generate most of the business, says Lurvey. Why? Because more and more jurisdictions are demanding better documentation that buildings have been surveyed for lead and asbestos — harmful substances once common in construction — before giving contractors remodeling or demolition permits, says Lurvey.

A frustrating development for Lurvey is the added cost of meeting increased training requirements for her employees — not because she considers the training unnecessary, but because many smaller rivals don’t bother.

Not only does that put Med-Tox at a competitive disadvantage financially, it’s a disservice to the public, she says.

Another headache is keen competition for experienced employees. Head hunters recently lured several workers away from Med-Tox, says Lurvey.

A more exciting trend from Lurvey’s standpoint is the growing use of technology — including the Internet. She says more than half of the reports and plans produced by her company are delivered to clients electronically.

What’s more, laptop computers and portable analysis machines enable Med-Tox to often produce reports in the field “in real time,” says Lurvey.

Copyright ©1995-2001 Seattle Daily Journal and DJC.COM.
Comments? Questions? Contact us.