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"Meets All Microplate Instrumentation Needs"
By Michael D. Brush, 2010
 

     "You have to be extremely good at servicing instruments," says Larry Marcoux, president and founder of MTX Lab Systems Inc. of Vienna, VA. "Otherwise, you create problems and then spend more time fixing those than serving customers. Incompetence can really drag you down."

     Competence, of course, comes from experience, an abundant commodity at MTX Lab Systems, an independent company specializing in the sales and service of microplate instrumentation. Marcoux's personal expertise contributes greatly to his company's success. It developed during the 20 years he worked in the satellite and computer industry before moving into the bio-medical instrumentation field in 1982. "My training in electronics and engineering made for an easy transition," he says.

     After six years of working as the service manager for Flow Laboratories handling a line of microplate readers and washers manufactured in Finland by Lab Oy (better known as Labsystems, now ThermoFisher), Marcoux started MTX Lab Systems in 1989. Electing to stay in Flow's original hometown in Virginia when Titertek, an aspect of the company moved to Alabama as part of a restructuring move, Marcoux maintained a connection with Lab Oy, providing microplate instrumentation sales and service with a small staff of technicians and engineers. At his own expense, he traveled to Finland over ten years for training, becoming the only factory-trained technician in North America certified from Labsystems, Titertek, Denley, and ICN/FLOW. With millions of plate readers, washers, and pipettors under these brand names in the field, MTX Lab Systems has grown steadily over the years providing high quality service. Today, all of Marcoux's staff of seasoned engineers and technicians boasts each 29 years experience, collectively 81 years! Collectively, they have handled over 1,000,000 pieces of equipment.

     As an independent instrument service company, MTX offers a pricing schedule and service options not always available from the original equipment manufacturers. For example, according to MTX's vice president Elizabeth Nealon, the company will frequently repair an instrument that the original manufacturer no longer supports. "Our service engineers have the expertise to repair rather than replace a component, especially an electronic one, often at significant discounts over the cost of new parts. We have expanded our sales and service to include many different manufacturers to meet the needs of small companies and universities," she says.

     Microplate instrumentation sales are also an important part of MTX Lab Systems' business. In addition to the sales of new instruments, MTX sells demonstrator and remanufactured readers, washers, and nearly 100 new or remanufactured hand-held single- and multi-channel pipettors. Obtained from a variety of major manufacturers, these instruments possess the same quality and warrantees as new instruments. MTX also sells instruments that process 20-60 microwell plates at a time. Sophisticated, general-purpose plate management systems, these robot friendly instruments supply plate readers and washers with up to 20, or 60 plates automatically.

     In 1995, MTX Lab Systems introduced a revolutionary software package called Spectrosoft. This versatile, state-of-the-art, feature packed program controls most microplate readers, including the Molecular Devices VMAX, EMAX, Thermomax, and the Multiskan, among others. Spectrosoft incorporates a built-in spreadsheet calculation capability in addition to providing real time results and curve fitting and graphical analysis functions. (Information on Spectrosoft and MTX's other products is available online at www.mtxlsi.com/spectrosoft.htm)

     Of course, the company's services are not limited to just Microplate instrument sales and repairs. MTX Lab Systems also offers service,  on or off site technical support, custom modifications, fabrication, installation services, and technical support.

     With customers like world-wide Universities, Walter Reed Army Medical Center,  Makerere Univ., Far Eastern State Univ.  Russia and USDA outposts and the smaller start-up's, MTX Lab Systems strives to maintain its position at the leading edge in its field. Part of that effort included a move into manufacturing with the release of the first of its own plate washer. "With our level of background, we are very aware of the technical and service problems with microplate instrumentation. We have the best in service and engineering to rely on in overcoming some of the inherent instrumentation problems we typically see," Nealon says. In fact, manufacturing has been a long time goal for the company. "My goal from the beginning was to have our own product line." says Marcoux, "But we have always been a good service company, we won't forget that."

 

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