Mick Samples became President of Coalscan Sales, Inc. in 1991 while maintaining his job as Corporate Technical Director.

That same year (1991) was a year of both advances and setbacks as Std Labs acquired the Peabody Coal Company Central Laboratory in Freeburg, Illinois with Rich Wilburn as its manager. (Discussed under Acquisitions.) Rich served as manager, along with later the title of Corporate Technical Director, until illness required him to retire. Rich was also well recognized in the ASTM organization receiving the R.A. Glenn Award, its highest honor. Steve Wilshire and Tim Hutchinson later became Freeburg managers. This acquisition was also responsible for giving Std Labs expert capabilities in soil and rock mechanics testing.

The setback that year was that the Charleston lab and its preparation building were completely burned to the ground without saving anything except for a couple of trucks parked outside. The fire was thought by the fire inspectors to have started in a wastepaper basket in the basement of the main building. Moreover, after a lengthly investigation, it was considered to be a case of arson. The probable perpetrator was a disgruntled employee who is believed to have been released from a local fire department for setting fires. In a later separate matter he was sentenced to prison for burning down his in-laws’ house and killing his father-in-law.

With the complete loss of facility and equipment the staff of the Charleston lab continued to collect samples from its clients and transport them to the Buckhannon, WV or Whitesburg, KY labs for overnight work. This effort continued for several months

Under very trying conditions as a search for a new facility was undertaken. After a couple of months a solutions lab built in the 1950s by FMC was purchased. The process of rehabilitating the 10,000 square foot building and acquiring the necessary equipment then took several months and finally normal operations were resumed. During this time Mick Samples was unfortunately called to engineer the removal of a large amount of very friable asbestos insulation.

1991 was also the last year in which the International Coal Testing Conference was held. The interest level in new equipment and procedures had waned to the point that continued support was not financially prudent. This concluded eleven years of existence for the conference which had clearly cemented Std Labs’ reputation as a major player in the international coal testing field.