While many Blue Earth residents don't know much about it, MAK-BEA Laboratory has quietly gone about their work of testing food samples for their clients.
For nearly 20 years, the food-testing lab has been tucked away in the back regions of the Ag Center in Blue Earth.
Now, it is going to go through some changes, including having a new name and ownership.
Peter Ortega is the technical service manager at the new Deibel Labs of Minnesota.
The Blue Earth company was purchased by Deibel Laboratories on April 2.
"We are staying right here in Blue Earth," says technical service manager Peter Ortega, who has been with the company for eight years. "But, we are going to remodel our lab, expand our capabilities and add to our number of employees.
Currently, the company employs seven full-time people in Blue Earth, from lab managers and technicians to quality control managers.
"Now as Deibel Laboratories, we will be expanding the lab, doing more kinds of testing, and improving opur quality management system," Ortega says. "That means we need more people."
Deibel Laboratories was started in Madison, Wis., in the 1970s and owned nine labs across the U.S. and Canada prior to the Blue Earth purchase.
It is owned by Charles Deibel, son of Dr. Robert Deibel, the founder.
MAK-BEA Lab was started by Gaylen Maki, who owned the facility at the time of the sale.
Ortega says one of the exciting parts of joining the Deibel Laboratory company is getting full accredidation.
"By mid-summer we will be fully ISO accredited," he says. "We will have an ISO 17025 accredidation. We have worked on this for some time, but were not getting it done."
Ortega says the rating means the lab uses all proper safeguards, from start to finish.
"It means we do what we say we do," he adds. "It is the wave of the future in our business."
Ortega also says MAK-BEA Labs always prided themselves on customer service, and that is going to continue under the name of Deibel Labs.
The laboratory takes food samples from restaurants, grocery stores and food processors and tests them for bacteria and pathogens.
They create a microbial profile of the foods for the customer.
"We have had many of the same customers for years, and they are excited that we are expanding under the Diebel Laboratories name now," Ortega says.
Their customer list includes food handling businesses from across the country.
"In many cases they overnight ship food samples to us," Ortega says. "But, in Minnesota and North Dakota, we actually will go and visit the places and take our own samples there. That is our customer service."
Plus, the lab techs will do crisis management seminars after pathogen outbreaks occur in the business.
"Our customers are not ordered to do this testing with us," Ortega explains. "They are doing it because they want to be able to know exactly what is going on in their facility before something happens."
He says part of their work involves checking when someone claims to have become ill, and blames the food of the lab's customer.
"People sometimes claim some tainted food made them sick," Ortega says. "We provide the scientific evidence as to whether that was possible or not."
Ortega says joining with Deibel Labs is pretty exciting for the local lab, which is officially changing its name to Deibel Labs of Minnesota.
"It is a pretty awesome opportunity for us," Ortega says. "We are going to be able to expand into more than just the food testing we have been doing."
The sale was assisted with a $70,000 loan from the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority.
Other Deibel Labs are located in Madison, Wis.; St. Louis, Mo.; Chicago, Ill.; Twin Falls, Idaho; Lakeland, Gainesville and Sarasota, Fla.; Bethlehem, Pa.; San Francisco, Calif.; Brampton, Ontario, Canada; Milan, Italy.