A sense of normality returned to the country, world, as the Covid 19 virus slowed down. The coal industry production leveled off at 600 million tons, but coal exports actually increased. The Russian war in Ukraine increased the value of coal worldwide as NATO and other Western Nations stopped purchasing Russian fossil fuel, particularly Russian natural gas, as a response to their invasion. In 2022, the coal industry had one of its best years in decades. Although production remained consistent, supply chain issues limited new production and the price per ton increased dramatically. Steam coal was well over $100/ton; Met priced over $300/ton.
Standard Labs two biggest issues in 2022 was (1) finding enough staff at nearly every lab location and (2) moving out of the S. Chas. building which was sold to AEP in 2021.
The staffing issue continues to be a problem for SL, coal industry, and the country in general. Unemployment was at historically low levels and the entire country is looking to replace the retirement baby boomer workforce. A decade of negative press against fossil fuels made it hard for companies like SL to attract the younger generation for careers in the coal industry.
The move from S. Chas. took nearly the entire year. The first step was moving the labs work to either Cannonsburg, KY or Belington, WV. Next step was moving lab instrumentation and infrastructure (particularly the coal prep equipment) to other SL labs. Last move was the corporate offices. The process started at the beginning of the year and was completed in mid-November. Many of the corporate staff worked the summer from home, but fortunately the experience from Covid 19 crisis had had prepared the group for working remotely.
Sample Associates International, a partnership founded by Troy Stallard, celebrated its 40th year of operation. Like SL, SAI has been a great success story. They are the most prominent sampling system provider maintaining systems at nearly every export coal terminal in the United States with laboratories in Central and South America as well.
SAI hired Ken Joyner to support Paul Reagan in a senior management role, but lost Ed Fallis as he retired in the end of 2022.
SL Western Division promoted Shellie Thomas to Western Division manager. This was a vacant position since Kelly Olenyik retired in 2021 with Don Merritt managing the Western Division in the interim. Shellie came on board at a trying time as Cameo Maxwell (Buck Skin) and Billie Leeper (Rawhide/Caballo) both left for other interests. At the same time, Peabody asked to separate the two labs. So Shellie has had to replace herself and name three additional managers.
At the Cannonsburg, KY lab, Greg Webb retired after 35 years with SL. Fortunately for SL, Jeremy Lutsy (S. Chas. lab manager) was available and ready to replace Greg. Jeremy and Greg had the opportunity to work together for 8 months to ensure a smooth transition.
Jason Lingenfelter was hired late year as a Project Manager adding younger talent to the corporate staff.
During 2022, SL lost 2 extremely valuable and significant members of the SL family. Israel Broome passed away on April 5. Ray Daniels died on Dec. 2.
Israel Broome was an essential part of the growth of SL since 1976. He started as the Charleston lab manager and quickly was promoted to a regional division manager. He previously worked with General Electric in Louisville, KY and prior to that, Israel was part of the Apollo Project in the 1960’s. In 1979, SL needed expertise with a sampling project for a customer in Henderson, IN. As a mechanical engineer, Israel solved their problem by building a mobile truck auger sampling system. It was the beginning of Precision Samplers, Inc. (PSI). He became an iconic figure in the coal industry because he was from NYC (that was/is unusual for the coal industry), but mainly it came from his extraordinary business sense, ability to work deals, quick wit and charm. He was an extremely valuable part of the management team in the 80’s & 90’s that transformed Standard Labs from a regional firm to the international firm it is today. Israel retired from Standard Lab in the mid-90’s to focused full time on Precision Samplers. He loved PSI and continued to work until he was 86.
Ray Daniels succeed Israel as Charleston Lab manager and eventually became the Eastern Division Manager. He began his career with SL in 1980 as President of Standard Instrumentation. As the name implies, Standard Instrumentation designed and manufactured coal testing laboratory equipment. In 1981, Standard Instrumentation was named the WV export company of the year. When SL sold the business to Preiser Scientific, Ray became SL’s Director – Quality Assurance before taking management roles first as Charleston Lab manager and then ending his career as the Eastern Division Manager.