January, 2004

1,781,000 Samples Later …
20 Years at Ward Laboratories

By Dr. Ray Ward

The start of the new year marks another milestone at Ward Laboratories, Inc. as we celebrate 20 years of service to the agricultural community. As the headline of this article declares, we have analyzed more than 1,781,000 samples since we started in November, 1983 in temporary quarters consisting of a three bay garage at Rovar Park in Kearney.

Thanks to the generosity and persistence of Kearney builder/developer Jerry Schmidt (now deceased) and agronomist Mark Kottmeyer, Jolene and I were attracted to Kearney with the dream of establishing and building a comprehensive agricultural testing facility. In January, 1984 we moved into our first permanent lab facility at Rovar Park with Jolene, myself and 1 1/2 other employees. In our first full year of operation, 1984, we were elated to analyze 16,488 samples. By comparison, last year marked another record year for Ward Laboratories as we conducted tests on 163,737 samples.

Interestingly enough, our plans initially were to provide only soil testing. However, in June of our first year, we were asked to conduct our first feed test … and we did. In all of 1984, we conducted 465 feed tests … in 2003, 36,005 feed tests were conducted by our professional staff. Today, we're proud to do complete testing on soil, feed, water and plants.

In January, 1989 we proudly opened a new 6,000 square foot laboratory northeast of Kearney. Eleven years later and light years in increased demand and new technology, we expanded and remodeled our facility by another 9,200 square foot creating one of the largest and most advanced agricultural testing facilities in the Midwest.

Further, the cost of a complete soil analysis, which includes 17 different tests, was $18.50 in 1984 and just $20 today.

Today, we have 22 full time employees that can grow to 40 in peak season, an annual payroll nearing $750,000 dollars, over 15,200 square feet of laboratory, thousands of dollars in sophisticated equipment and a continued commitment to serve all your agricultural testing needs.

Thanks for your confidence during our first twenty years … we look forward with excitement to our next twenty years with you.