Stricter federal regulations on monitoring air inside buildings
containing asbestos bring a smile to Gordon Gray's face.
After all, it's those regulations by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency that are responsible for his company, QuanTEM
Laboratories, becoming a part of the burgeoning environment
"There are a lot of people, even those in the industry, who feel
this is a bad move, that we are now on the tail end of the curve,"
he said. "But instead, we are on the front of it.
I feel this company has the potential to be hugely successful
Although Gray said he did not like to discuss specific financial
figures, he said the company's business plan projects sales in the
first six months to reach about $300,000.
Annual sales of about $3 million within five years "appears to
be reasonable," he said.
"Personally, I expect to do much better than that, but that's
reasonable," he said. "Most of our figures are conservative, but I
really feel we will do much better than that."
After all, asbestos clean-up is expected to cost $6 billion
annually within 10 years and increase to $9.1 billion annually
within 20 years.
QuanTEM, with headquarters and laboratories at 2033 Heritage
Park Drive, is Oklahoma City's newest high-technology services
company. It opened its doors Tuesday and has yet to attract its
"But, it's just a matter of time," he said. "We expected to get
our first sample (of material for analysis) today, but we didn't so
it should be any day now."
The company, which has been in the formation stages for two
years, will have a sharply defined focus on a specialized segment of
the asbestos abatement industry, dealing only with abatement
contractors, Gray said.
QuanTEM will perform highly sophisticated transmission
electronic microscope analysis on air, water and bulk samples to
determine the presence of asbestos fibers.
"We decided to be highly specialized so that we not only would
be good at what we would do, we will be extremely good in a highly
specialized way," he said. "Besides, the investors seem to like the
idea of a sharp focus. They don't particularly like the idea of
people (companies in which they invest) going off 18 different ways
and not concentrating on their core business.
"We don't intend to do that.
"For right now, all we will do is that one thing. There have
been estimates that it will take at least 15 years to clean up all
the buildings which have asbestos. That's the estimate life of our
That specialized niche the company is seeking is partly mandated
by the Environmental Protection Agency which began about 15 years
ago to search for ways to positively identify minute asbestos fibers
which cause health problems. First attempts were to use normal
light microscopes which helped, but couldn't positively identify all
fibers, said Barry Rayfield, the company's laboratory director.
"They began searching for some sort of methodology which would
positively identify the mineral fibers as being asbestos," he said.
"About five years ago, the search settled on the transmission
electron microscope and it was fully approved about three years ago."
Because the transmission electron microscope, which can be used
to provide three types of analysis which combine to provide positive
identification of minerals, is so expensive, the EPA mandated its
use in phases, Gray said. The final phase, in which clean-up of
public school buildings must be certified through the transmission
electron microscope analysis, becomes effective in October.
"That's one of the things which will help us," he said. "We
already meet or exceed all the standards set out by the EPA to
monitor those buildings. …