The Great War Leads to New Scientific Industry in the United States
World War I was a catalyst for trade restrictions and economic upheaval worldwide. Until this time, few scientific instruments were manufactured in the United States, and the majority were imported from Europe. This trade disruption created a need for domestic manufacturing in the United States, thus the American laboratory product and supply industry was born. Manufacturing initially focused on supporting the war effort by accelerating production of instruments for the armed forces overseas. However, the effects of bans on duty-free imports had a lasting impact on how American scientists acquired instrumentation. Ultimately, these changes drove the growth of the laboratory product and supply industry in the United States.
Within a few years, a series of discussions among manufacturers led to the formation of the organization known today as the Laboratory Products Association (LPA). The organization underwent substantial growth and change over the last century and made lasting contributions to policy and regulations that affect the industry to this day. One hundred years later, the LPA consists of approximately 120 companies. Their mission is to enable its members to improve their global and commercial success by providing them multiple networking and educational opportunities as well as essential market information. To do so, they have advocated for the industry, contributed to key agreements and policies, and organized countless meetings, webinars, and educational events for members.
The History and Origin of the Laboratory Products Association
The Laboratory Products Association began in 1918 with 21 companies known as the Association of Scientific Apparatus Makers of America (SAMA). One of the earliest members was Eberbach & Son, a pharmacy and laboratory supply business founded by Christian Eberbach to supply surrounding hospitals and universities. The company has since grown and is now Eberbach Corporation, which holds the distinction of being the oldest LPA Member.
In its early years, SAMA promoted industry standardization, developed a code of ethics, and aided in the publication of the first United States journal devoted to the industry: Review of Scientific Instruments. This peer-reviewed journal continues to be an asset for scientists, as its scope includes novel instrumentation and technical information relevant to multiple disciplines including physics, chemistry, and biology.
In the 1930s, SAMA helped to enact the National Industry Recovery Act, passed to enable regulation of industry to ensure fair wages and drive economic recovery. Following a name change to the Scientific Apparatus Makers Association in the 1940s, the organization worked to represent the industry in trade agreements with Canada as well as address issues of price regulation. Later, SAMA launched public information programs, and published a directory of internal standards.
By the 1980s, SAMA restructured into several affiliated associations, the largest of which was the Laboratory Products Association. Many operating sections began to incorporate as separate trade associations and in 2011, the decision was made to rename SAMA to Laboratory Products Association.
Key Accomplishments for the Industry
The LPA has led multiple successful initiatives to ensure the global and commercial success of its members. Early examples include representing industry regarding tariffs, minimum wages, and trade promotion practices as well as trade mark legislation, and price regulation. The LPA also redefined the scientific instruments and products classification in the United States Department of Commerce statistics, and subsequently launched public information programs and industry opportunity booklets.
The Florence agreement was a UNESCO treaty approved in 1950, abolishing customs duties on imports including scientific instruments. The LPA (SAMA at the time) represented the industry position regarding imports, procurement procedures, product classifications, and more. The LPA has also drafted proposals for tax incentives for university research and development and was critical to the enactment of research and development tax credits for United States industry. As members of the National Association of Manufacturer’s Council of Manufacturing Associations, the LPA obtains educational info and data that they pass on to its members.
Supporting a Lifetime of Science
2018 marks the centennial year for the Laboratory Products Association. The LPA’s membership is comprised of 125 companies that are manufacturers and distributors of glass and plasticware, chemicals, and equipment used in scientific research and life sciences worldwide. LPA involvement in the growth and stature of the laboratory product and supply industry provides scientists with reliable options that contribute to excellent work. The value of LPA membership is exemplified in its advocacy work, resources, workshops, and news updates on regulation and policy relevant to the industry.
LPA board member Jennifer Costello of Corning Inc. shares an example of how LPA advocacy benefitted her company. The association advocated for government funding of research, leading to an increase in the spending bill passed by Congress. “It is important that an industry organization tries to educate our elected officials about the value and economic impact federal funding has on the discovery of treatments and medicine, on the life sciences industry, on jobs and on the economy” says Costello.
In addition to work with government entities, the LPA provides business networking opportunities for members at many events throughout the year. The annual meeting is an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge and insight from experts on policy changes, emerging trends, and marketing strategies. These networking events allow members to form a network of businesses with the shared goal of helping scientists conduct life- saving research. Members can also access a library of industry market research, and current news on economic and regulatory changes that impact the industry. In addition to these resources, the LPA provides information about sales and marketing workshops and webinars that can help manufacturers build strong sales teams and stay current on the latest, most effective marketing strategies.
The American laboratory supply and product industry emerged during the First World War and has since grown substantially. This industry supports scientific research, applied sciences, and life sciences worldwide, to achieve extraordinary achievements. The Laboratory Products Association is the voice of the industry, advocating for its members and providing the resources and educational opportunities essential to support growing businesses.
To learn more about the LPA, visit their website www.lpanet.org.