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Growing Southwest Labs finds new home


Lab supervisor Taran Kaur works at Southwest Labs, which just purchased an office building for its headquarters. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The owners of an Albuquerque toxicology reference laboratory, which is growing at a rapid clip, have purchased an office building in the North I-25 area as the company’s new corporate headquarters.

A spokesman for Southwest Labs, which provides patient prescription monitoring services, said buying the building six months ago takes away the burden of having to constantly remodel leased facilities to provide enough office space for its growing workforce as well as housing test equipment.

“We kept having to knock walls down,” said John Lahoff, marketing director for the business, which acquired the 11,000-square-foot building at 4261 Balloon Park Road NE for an undisclosed price. Employees moved in a month ago, said Lahoff.

In addition to the management team, the 55-person workforce includes technicians to run the equipment and perform the tests. The company also employs  sales representatives, sample collectors and drivers.

Lahoff said the company sunk $350,000 into top-to-bottom tenant improvements at the building, which was formerly a charter school. Southwest Labs staffers had to carefully time the movement of highly sophisticated instrumentation — liquid mass spectrometers — which are used for patient prescription monitoring. “You just can’t unplug” the equipment and haul it across town, he said of the very precise installation.

In order to swing the purchase of its own real estate, the company’s principals relied on private investors and “its own cash flow” from payers, primarily insurance companies, said Lahoff.

Physicians and hospitals send their patients to Southwest Labs to do drug testing in order to confirm that patients are actually taking their medications. Southwest Labs is competing with large out-of-state labs by providing a fast, local alternative for patients and doctors, said Lahoff.