Success Story: Lead Check

In May, 2010, our firm was approached by a small business in Natick that developed test strips to detect lead paint in homes.  The company, LeadCheck, was founded by Dr. Marcia Stone, an innovative chemist whose sole purpose in creating the device was to develop a simple, low-cost product that would protect children from lead poisoning.  At the time, Dr. Stone’s staff consisted of 4 full time members generating approximately $1 million dollars a year in sales.

The company approached TEK because they had a major problem on their hand. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was about to implement a new program requiring that all property owners renovating space in building older than 1978 follow “lead safe” practices, which mandated the use of an EPA-certified detection kit. In April, LeadCheck was notified that their product became the only kit eligible in the nation certified under “Phase I “of the new program. Obviously, this was good news for the company as demand for the product grew dramatically, but the agency’s regulations allowed for the certification to be revoked within five months after the start of the program for a less stringent standard.

EPA’s regulations posed very real impacts for the company. LeadCheck was unsure whether they staff up to meetthis demand and procure resources to fulfill these orders from large national retailers only to potentially have their product become obsolete? Did the agency itself understand the real-world business impacts that this potential ruling could have for job impacts in Massachusetts?  For contractors being trained to use the LeadCheck product, which in turn supported EPA’s rollout of the program, the company believed that the unintended consequences would create confusion for vendors, contractors as well as the general public – while sending the wrong message by negating a more sensitive detection test.

LeadCheck had to communicate these issues immediately to the decision makers. The problem was that they did not know who to talk to, how to engage in the process, or to successful execute a plan to resolve their business dilemma.

That’s where we stepped in.

Working with LeadCheck’s team, TEK developed a comprehensive strategic plan to aggressively engage in the federal rulemaking process. This included the formulation of correspondence, legislative and regulatory amendments, testimony, as well as developing support from outside stakeholders including public health advocacy organizations and contractor trade associations to build support for a change in the regulation.  Together, TEK and LeadCheck met with EPA staff in Washington, as well as congressional members and staff to inform them of this issue and to consider changes to the regulations.  An intensive lobbying effort on Capitol Hill, as well as the State House, was coupled with a comprehensive media strategy to bolster our efforts with decision makers. The successful effort led to the continued recognition of LeadCheck products by the EPA.

The result? Several months after the resolution of this issue, the company grew to over 50 staffers in Natick with tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue generated through the program.  Because of this growth, LeadCheck was acquired from Dr. Marcia Stone by 3M in February of 2011.