Peabody Coal Company Central Laboratory


The largest coal company in America, Peabody Coal Company, approached Std Labs early in the year of 1991 about acquiring their central research and core analyses laboratory located in Freeburg, Illinois. That lab was renowned for its high quality work in virtually all aspects of coal analysis and soil mechanics. The lab had a number of highly experienced employees headed by Rick Wilburn.

Evidently, Peabody was aware that most coal companies in the United States were closing their central and research labs and relying on universities and commercial labs for their non-routine quality control work. They had witnessed the acquisition of the Amax Coal Company’s central lab in Evansville, Indiana (see Amax Coal Company Central Laboratory under Acquisitions) by Std Labs. In fact, only Peaboady, and Westmoreland Coal Company retained their central labs at that point in time.

After somewhat brief negotiations, agreement was reached wherein Std Labs would purchase the assets of the central labs and provide special rates for future Peabody work while maintaining the existing personnel staff and same analytical procedures.

Outside independent work was allowed as a part of the arrangement.

Since that time the Freeburg lab has been one of the most successful labs in the Std Labs system in terms of worldwide recognition of quality work and stable financial results.

Rich Wilburn, in addition to his duties as lab manager, became the Technical Director for Std Labs in 1996 and was recognized as perhaps the leading technical advisor in the world of coal testing and analysis. Rich with Rick Fletcher organized and managed the effort, Quality Assurance Resources, LLC (see Diversifications). He was awarded the R. A. Glenn prize by the D5 Committee of ASTM for his outstanding contributions to this science. He continued in this role with the company until illness forced him to retire.

He was succeeded as lab manager by Steve Wilshire and then Tim Hutchinson.