The chemical service industry is a growing sector and plays an important role in supporting chemical/gas/materials/semiconductor companies. Since 1990, Applied Analytical has provided support to its customers, internationally, in the areas of custom chemical analysis, testing, measurement, and problem solving in fields as disparate as semiconductor, environmental, and biomedical applications.
Meet Dr. Barry Streusand, a chemist entrepreneur who started Applied Analytical. Under his guidance, Applied Analytical is now one of the premier analytical services laboratories with global strategic alliance partners.
Full name: Barry J. Streusand
Hometown: Austin, TX
Current position: President, Applied Analytical, Inc.
First job: Lifeguard/Swimming instructor
Favorite job: Current
Education: Ph.D. in Chemistry
Years in the field: 35
What you learned from Chemistry: You need to think inside of a problem.
What have you learned from being an Entrepreneur: Flexibility
How I got here in 10 words or less: I wanted as much control over my destiny as possible.
Q: How do you see your role as a scientist and how has it changed over the years?
A: Less doing (personally) and more enabling/motivating (leadership).
Q: Applied Analytical is one of the premier analytical service laboratories. How did you get your first start as an entrepreneur?
A: I became involved as the “chemical person” in a market study for a new business venture that my employer was considering. It evolved into a business that I helped start.
Q: What is the nature of your job day-to-day? How do you find your work-life balance?
A: As a small business owner, my day to day job can involve anything from discussing health insurance or reactivity of a chemical, to asking for a past due payment, to fixing the plumbing or mopping, to writing a proposal, or running an instrument. The other aspect of small business life is that it is intermixed with personal life and you need to make a conscious effort to remember what is important to you.
Q: What do you like about being an entrepreneur? What do you dislike?
A: I like the time flexibility, variety of challenge, and reward of successfully completing a difficult project. I dislike the continuous uncertainty.
Q: When and how did you find out life is not fair?
A: My research advisor would point this out almost daily. He was correct.
Q: The challenge of many technology companies is how to continue being innovative. What challenges are you facing as a service provider company?
A: Absolutely true. I remember my father showing me a cartoon as a teenager that consisted of a man standing waist deep in a swamp with alligators around him and the caption “It is difficult to remember when you are up to your bottom in alligators that your original objective was to drain the swamp”. I understand this now. You need to constantly remind yourself what your objectives are; personal, professional, and commercial. When I first started my business I discovered that I was very isolated, so I made significant efforts to maintain colleagues and one of those mechanisms is working in ACS. One of the big realizations of being a service provider is that you either need to maintain relevance to your customers or find new customers that you are relevant to; or do both.
Q: How do you anticipate and keep up with your customer needs?
A: This is a continuous challenge that we address by attending conferences and trade shows, and talking with our customers.
Q: Current economic conditions are really tough for companies, especially for small companies. What are your strategies for survival and growth?
A: We are working to figure this one out. It has resulted in a lot of internal self evaluation. In addition we are exploring new technologies to reach out to new customers and promote our capabilities globally.
Q: What advice would you give to other/aspiring entrepreneur scientists and small companies?
A: Know what is important to you and make sure that you have a support network.
Q: If you had a crystal ball, what opportunities do you envision for entrepreneur scientists and small business when we come out of the recession? What would be the next big commercial technology breakthrough or service need?
A: Do you know a good crystal ball vendor? By reaching a broader audience through global communication technologies, we hope to be able to assess future support opportunities.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: We are going to be open to market demands, sensitive to emerging trends, and apply our capabilities to support our customers.
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
A: As having made a positive impact on the people that are important to me.
Career Advice from Barry.
Best advice: Realize what you bring to the table and what your personal and business objectives are.
Skills you need: Interpersonal skills, organizational skills, flexibility, and curiosity.
Degrees you should go for: I do not believe that you can be overeducated.
Where you should start: Be aware of your personal strengths and weaknesses, carefully define your objectives, and be aware of the risks.
Professional organizations to contact: ACS and whatever boutique societies apply.