Ask Me Anything about starting a small chemical business

submitted  by AmerChemSocietyAMAAmerican Chemical Society AMA Guest
Hi Reddit! I’m Jennifer Maclachlan, and together with my father, Jack Driscoll, I own and operate PID Analyzers, LLC, headquartered on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We are gas detection specialists credited with the commercialization of the world’s first hand-held photoionization detector. We manufacture and sell our technology worldwide as a stand-alone gas chromatography (GC) detector, also as a hand-held detector, and in complete fixed/continuous systems. This helps our customers, be they in the lab or out in the field, detect low level gas for various monitoring applications.
People ask me if I always knew I wanted to work in the family business and the answer is yes. After completing my education at Boston College in 1998, I began my full time employment at the company, which coincided with having to dramatically downsize from 200+ employees because of the devastating loss of a key client, termination of the Superfund Program and debilitating competition on our hand-held PID’s as our patents began to expire. This was followed by several tumultuous years of running like a start-up. These were the formative years in my entrepreneurial career where I learned all my business management skills and became proficient in all the aspects of our business: Customer service, sales/marketing, accounting, engineering, applications, production, QA/QC, and shipping; each of these tasks I either performed some function of or at one time or another, oversaw.
Over the last ten years I have been responsible for managing relationships with distributors and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) clients as well as the web-based marketing, and social and digital media initiatives at our small but mighty small chemical business.
In addition to all the many things I do for our company, I am very active in ACS committees and local sections. I’m in my second year as Chair of the ACS Committee on Public Relations and Communications after getting my volunteer governance start in the ACS Division of Small Chemical Businesses. I’m also active in the ACS Divisions of Analytical Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, and the Northeastern Section of the ACS (NESACS). A common thread in my ACS activities is promoting the use of social media for personal and professional branding.
With the help of NESACS’s connections, my father and I in 2011 started the Cape Cod Science Café, a local educational outreach program bringing together the scientific community and the general public in our home community. We hold events on interesting topics like the chemistry of wine and beer, alternative energy solutions, water quality, climate change and more.
Ask me anything about starting up a small chemical business. You can also ask me about hand-held portable GCs/automatic multipoint GC systems, volunteer service to the American Chemical Society, or science cafes.


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