History of Standard Laboratories, Inc.

Historical Portrait of a Closely Held Business


Coal is not a simple material. It is extremely heterogeneous by nature, being a vastly complex mixture of organic and inorganic compounds and free elements. It not only varies from place to place, from seam to seam, from stratum to stratum, from lump to lump, but even from maceral to maceral. (The maceral is the smallest sub-structure of coal identifiable under the electron microscope.)

“Coal – having been formed from plant substances preserved from decay in a favor-able environment and acted upon by various chemical and physical agencies — is not a simple substance but a complicated mixture of organic and inorganic com-pounds. It may never be possible to untangle the skeins of linkages and combination of atoms in a single gram of coal. So the coal laboratory must content itself, for the most part, with measurements of various generalities, such as the amount of ash formed when a coal burns or the relative difficulty or ease of grinding a coal from one size to another.” Quote by Gladys Stallard Berchtold in “The Laboratory’s Role in the Coal Industry,” 1976 Keystone Coal Industry Manual.

Therefore, because of coal’s diverse nature, it is among the most difficult of all natural materials to properly sample and analyze. As such, the establishment of coal laboratories has been very important in the development of the coal industry world-wide. Sampling procedures have been developed to provide for reliable representation of the coals being sampled, and repeatable laboratory results have allowed coal producers and users to mutually understand the quality characteristics. This important information permits users to more efficiently utilize a given coal and thereby contributes to both energy and steel production across the entire world.

A particular type of coal lab is the “independent” coal lab and it can be defined as “a lab which does not have a vested interest in the outcome of the analytical results it generates.” That lab, therefore, has no ownership interests in the coal production and utilization industry in any way. As such, coal labs that are captive such as ones for a coal fired utility, a coal producer or even a coal research lab cannot qualify as an “independent” lab. Sometimes independent labs are referred to as “commercial” labs.

Standard Laboratories, Inc., is an independent lab whose ownership resides entirely in one family which has no ownership what-soever in the mining or utilization of coal.

SL was established on a very noble principle. Its founder, Gladys Stallard Berchtold and her son, Troy F. Stallard, and now grandson, W. Todd Stallard have been convinced that the compound “coal” was a wonderful and, at the same time, critical gift to the human species. For them, coal has formed the major bridge allowing mankind to move from an agrarian society to an industrial society and thus has benefited humanity greatly in its journey into a more modern future. While aware of coal’s finite supply on earth and cognizant of its potential adverse properties, they recognize that the proper utilization of coal is absolutely essential in producing energy in today’s world. They remain firm in the conviction that by generating accurate and reliable information regarding coal’s chemical and physical properties, the foundation is set to allow for more efficient use of coal and new ways to produce energy are discovered. The provision of a laboratory service dedicated to supplying such data is a very valuable contribution not only to this nation but to the whole world. Consequently, each succeeding generation at SL has made its goal to re-main true to this noble principle.

To navigate this history simply click on the above tab, Chronology, to read about events in any given year. Other tabs will access information on Diversifications, Acquisitions, Partnerships or Appended materials of importance.