Dr Ehrenstorfer: a heritage in pesticides
Part one: Brand building
Over the last five decades, Dr Ehrenstorfer has become the world’s leading provider of pesticide reference materials - leading the way in quality and innovation, and constantly improving our portfolio to match the changing needs of our customers. In this first of three articles celebrating our heritage, Dr Ehrenstorfer expert scientists Dan Biggerstaff, Kelly Cheshire, Philipp Feuerriegel and Jens Seltmann discuss the key building blocks that helped create a market-leading scientific brand.
What was the pesticides landscape like when Dr Ehrenstorfer started in 1975?
Philipp Feuerriegel: Back then, some regulations for pesticide testing were put in place, but no-one was able to apply them correctly in the lab because there were no reference materials available. So Dr Ehrenstorfer took on the challenge and said: ‘Well, if there are none available, we will create them’. The first sales were to German regional authorities, who from then on were able to measure the substances in the new regulations. I think at the time, in Europe at least, there were only two producers. So it was quite groundbreaking stuff.
In 1988, we launched our first pesticide reference materials mixtures. What was the story behind those?
Jens Seltmann: The products changed because our customers’ analytical equipment got better and better, so they were able to measure more and more pesticides. And that was the background to Dr Ehrenstorfer introducing pesticide mixtures, to measure – or to screen and check – for multiple kinds of analytes and pesticides in one run. It was much easier for those customers to use those mixtures than buying the individual standards and making the mixtures themselves. Today many customers still prefer to buy neats and make the mixtures themselves, based on the exact composition they need. But at the end of the 1980s, the labs, the methods and the instruments were so good that customers could measure mixtures for the first time, and that’s why we started that business. The first mixtures were organochlorines and organophosphates pesticide mixtures for German drinking water ordinances and EPA methods, like 508. They contained a lot of compounds that are controlled, or banned, today under the Stockholm Convention – for example aldrin, heptachlor, and HCH isomers.
How did the introduction of EPA methods in the 1990s change the picture?
Jens Seltmann: The EPA in the US was the first authority that published methods with a specific number of analytes that labs had to check for. So, rather than giving the customer 30 part numbers for neat materials, we produced mixtures for EPA methods such as 505 and 508, with all the analytes for the methods in there. So, as well as analytical progress, our products were driven by regulation development – the need to screen for specific compound lists. The advantage for the customer is that the mixture is a ready-to-use product – you can buy it, open the ampoule and just use it as it is (or maybe dilute it down one or two times). Whereas, with neat materials, you have to buy them individually, make individual stock solutions, put them together in one mixture, and then you’re ready to do analysis.
Dr Ehrenstorfer and Charleston-based o2si Smart Solutions became part of the LGC group in 2014, and 2016, respectively. How did their joining LGC benefit scientists and customers?
Dan Biggerstaff: What really made LGC stand out for me as a scientist was, first and foremost, the level of scientific knowledge within LGC, and the NML (The UK National Measurement Laboratory, hosted at LGC). The scientists are just incredibly smart. So the reputation that LGC had internationally, it was just incredible. The other driving factor was that we were kind of at an inflection point in our business. We were really growing very rapidly and we if we wanted to continue to grow, we needed to link up with someone bigger. We needed more analytical equipment to be able to keep up with the QC, and we needed more people: so the intellectual and financial resources that LGC was able to bring to the table were key. As a reference materials provider, we would purchase neat materials from Dr Ehrenstorfer and so, of course, I knew that they had a very good reputation around the world.
Kelly Cheshire: I think it was a bit like completing a jigsaw puzzle. Because – very broadly speaking - the strength of the Augsburg site is in neat materials and catalogue products, and Charleston’s strength was traditionally in customised solutions. So when you put those two pieces together, you form a whole picture. That coming together meant Dr Ehrenstorfer was able to provide the whole solution for their customers, because then every format was covered – wherever they were in the world, however they wanted to receive that product for their lab, we could supply it.
For nearly half a century, Dr Ehrenstorfer has consistently led the industry in pesticide reference materials. Today and tomorrow, we are committed to continuously improving our products, and expanding our offering with hundreds of new releases every year. You can browse our full range of pesticide products here.
Our PestiMix kit, accredited to ISO 17034, meanwhile offers a quick and easy solution to enable prompt calibration and spiking of a large number of pesticide analytes. The first product in the series – PestiMix v700 – features the largest mix of pesticide analytes to be found anywhere on the market, combining more than 700 analytes for liquid chromatography in only five ampoules. These solutions can be combined in just three minutes to create a single solution of 739 analytes at 1ppm. Calibration, meanwhile, takes just 30 minutes, optimising a laboratory’s efficiency and analytical performance.