SOUTHFIELD — Bridget Lorenz Lemberg, founder, lab director and toxicologist at Forensic Fluids Laboratories in Kalamazoo, has been named the Grant Thornton Leader & Innovator of the Year.
The award was announced at a reception Thursday night at Lawrence Technological University, which co-sponsors the annual award, along with Grant Thornton LLP and WWJ Newsradio 950.
Lemberg was chosen from nearly 50 nominees profiled during the past 12 months on Tuesdays in the WWJ Newsradio 950 Technology Report. The profiles are edited by WWJ Newsradio 950’s Matt Roush, who served as master of ceremonies at the reception.
The Leaders & Innovators program was developed in 2005 by Lawrence Tech to recognize Michigan business executives who are engaged in cutting-edge professions and industries expected to be key to Michigan’s economic future.
Lemberg has perfected a reliable method of conducting drug tests using saliva, not urine, and her company has evolved into a national leader in the field. Forensic Fluids now has 46 employees, and its revenue is projected to grow from around $10.6 million in 2012 to $17 million this year.
In the test developed by Lemberg, a subject wets a pad with his or her saliva. The pad is placed in a sealed tube and bar-coded by the subject, and then sent in a tamper-resistant envelope to Forensic Fluids, where it’s logged and analyzed with sophisticated equipment called mass spectrometers. One standard scan is for 10 commonly abused drugs, but the company can test for literally hundreds of drugs, from synthetic marijuana to prescription drugs.
The company carefully tracks every sample with barcoding, closely enough that its “chain of custody” of samples stand up in court. The courts are Forensic Fluids’ biggest customers, testing people who have been ordered to stay clean of drugs. In addition to working with the courts, Forensic Fluids also does therapeutic drug monitoring and workplace drug testing.
Testing for drugs and other chemicals with oral fluids is quick, easy, simple, and dignified. No special facilities are needed, and “it’s the most accurate drug testing you can get … you can’t cheat on it,” Lemberg points out.
“Bridget is a true pioneer in a pioneering field,” said Jim Trouba, audit partner, Grant Thornton LLP, who introduced Lemberg at the awards ceremony.
The offices of Forensic Fluids are in the former headquarters of the Gibson guitar company on Kalamazoo’s north side, including a room paneled in every kind of wood Gibson ever used to make guitars. Privately owned, Forensic Fluids placed made the 2011 Inc. Magazine 5000 list and was among the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch.
Lemberg received her bachelor’s degree in agriculture and her master’s degree in toxicology and pharmacology from the University of Kentucky.
Lemberg said she started the company after she met and married a Western Michigan University professor and moved to Kalamazoo. She had earlier worked for a company that pioneered oral drug testing but lacked business management skill.
She started the company in July 2005 and posted revenue of $56,000 that first year. Revenue grew to $160,000 in 2006, $600,000 in 2007, $1.2 million in 2008, $2.4 million in 2009, $4.2 million in 2010 and $5.4 million in 2011.
Most recently, Lemberg said, the company has grown enough to hire a chief operating officer and a chief financial officer, and is moving beyond drug testing for the criminal justice system.
“We’re also using it for therapeutic drug monitoring and dosing,” she said. “That’s where we’re headed. We started out testing for drugs of abuse, but we’re moving toward therapeutic dose monitoring.”
Lawrence Tech president Virinder Moudgil praised Lemberg and the honorees as embodying the American spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.
The other leaders and innovators profiled over the past 12 months — the field from which Lemberg was selected — were as follows:
Jack Aronson, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Garden Fresh Gourmet, Ferndale
Dan Barcheski, Founder and CEO, Axios Inc., Grand Rapids
Kenneth Bassey, Chairman and Founder, Saphran, Inc., Franklin
Brad Baxter, Founder and President, Automated Pet Care Products Inc., Pontiac
John Baysore, President and CEO, Dematic Corp., Grand Rapids
Keith Brophy, CEO, Ideomed, Grand Rapids
Luanne Brown, Founder and President, eTool Developers, Grand Rapids
Brad Byrnes, President and Owner, Xpert Technologies Inc., Sterling Heights
Kevin Choksi, Co-founder and CEO, WorkForce Software, Livonia
Ian Clemens, Chief Technology Officer, IDV Solutions, Lansing
Tom Cullen, Founder and President, Facility Solutions Inc., Clinton Township
David Doyle, Founder, CEO and president, CRT Medical Systems Inc., Novi
Adam Duke, Co-founder, Go Green Energy Consulting, Southfield
Peter Farner, Partner, TGap Ventures, LLC, Kalamazoo
Patrick Fehring, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO, Level One Bank, Farmington Hills
Paul Ferrier, Co-founder, Mindscape, Grand Rapids
Jennifer Ferris, President, Federated Service Solutions, Farmington Hills
Bryan Finnerty, Co-founder and CEO, ProtectCell, Novi
Blake Helppie, CEO, JobApp Network Inc., Bloomfield Hills
Matthias Horch, CEO and Co-founder, Secure-24, Inc., Southfield
Chris Jackson , Vice President, DaySmart Software Inc., Wixom
Gary Jackson, President, SunTel Services, Troy
Ronald Jasgur, President, Woodward Asset Capital, LLC, Southfield
Jay LaBine, Owner and CEO, Dynamic Captioning LLC, Grand Rapids
Mark Lundquist, Founder, President and CEO, Fulcrum Edge, Bloomfield Hills
Bob Masterson, President and Co-Founder, Family Mint, Inc., Ann Arbor
Thomas McGraw, President, McGraw Wentworth, a Marsh McLennan Agency LLC, Troy
Perry Mehta, President and CEO, FutureNet Group Inc., Detroit
Rishi Narayan, Co-founder, Underground Printing, Ann Arbor
Godfrey Nolan, Founder and President, RIIS LLC, Southfield
Patrick O’Keefe, Managing Member, O’Keefe & Associates Consulting LLC, Bloomfield Hills
Vik Patel, President and CEO, Future Hosting, LLC, Novi
Prabhu Patil, President, PROLIM, Farmington Hills
Tim Petersen, Managing Director, Arboretum Ventures, Ann Arbor
Mark Petroff, President and CEO, Marketing Associates LLC, Detroit
Bala Rajaraman, Co-founder, President and CEO, Marvel Technologies, Inc., Novi
Christopher Rizik, CEO, Renaissance Venture Capital Fund, Ann Arbor
Meg Roberts, President, Molly Maid, Inc., Ann Arbor
Tom Sesti, President , Bandals International, Inc., Rochester Hills
Tim Smith, President and CEO, Skidmore Studio, Detroit
Brig Sorber, President and CEO, Two Men and a Truck International, Inc., Lansing
Bob Sutherland, President and Owner, Cherry Republic, Glen Arbor
Kelly Sweeney, CEO, Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel, Troy
Paul Wieland, President and CEO, Frontier Computer Corp., Traverse City
Lawrence Technological University, http://www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. Bloomberg Businessweek lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 20 percent of universities for return on undergraduate tuition investment, and highest in the Detroit metropolitan area. Lawrence Tech is also listed in the top tier of Midwestern universities by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus include over 60 student clubs and organizations and a growing roster of NAIA varsity sports.