QST Experiences Five-Year Growth Spurt

April 16, 2009
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QST Consultations LTD of Allendale Township has been growing by 20 percent a year over the past five years. The independent consulting firm specializes in analyzing research for medical device and pharmaceutical companies throughout the nation.

QST offers such services as clinical and protocol development, data management, biostatistical analysis, medical writing and statistical consultation. The company has been involved in many successful Phase I, II and III and post-marketing clinical trials that have supported new drug application, new abbreviated drug application and pre-market approval submissions to the Food and Drug Administration.

John Quiring, Ph.D., founded QST in 1974. He had previously worked two years at Miles Laboratories, the maker of Alka-Seltzer. He was part of the research defense committee during a period of time when the Food and Drug Administration was trying to pull Alka-Seltzer off the market. Quiring also was a professor at Grand Valley State University, where he taught statistics, mathematics and computer science from 1974 to 1985.

“There is a great deal of work in the area,” Quiring noted. “It’s unusual to have a company like this in Michigan; they’re typically located on the East or West coast.” 

QTS has handled more than 75 non-clinical and 170 clinical trials in areas such as food consumption, body weight/gain, clinical pathology, hematology, clinical chemistry, urinalysis, pharmacokinetics and reproduction. On behalf of his clients, Quiring makes about 25 visits a year to the FDA.

QST has a fairly high IQ: It has three Ph.D. statisticians on staff, two Ph.D. medical writers, eight master’s degree level biostaticians, five programmers, about a dozen data management people, and a human resource staff. The staff numbers 30. QST works with companies of all sizes, from start-ups to Bristol Myers Squibb and Proctor & Gamble. Quiring said the business is split about 50-50 between drug studies and medical device research.

QST has been growing at the rate of nearly 30 percent a year in terms of revenue in each of the last five years. Quiring attributes about 5 percent of that growth to inflation. The company has outgrown its existing 7,500-square-foot headquarters at 6410 Lake Michigan Drive NW. It’s now readying for an expansion with the construction of a new two-story, 15,000-square-foot headquarters in Allendale, just west of the GVSU campus. Quiring said his team expects to move in sometime in January next year.

“It’s Phase I of what we hope will be a two-phased building,” Quiring noted. “If the economics work out for us and the business opportunities keep coming, we’ll add a second piece on the building that will mirror the first piece and add another 13,000 square feet of space.” 

Quiring said he doesn’t anticipate 30 percent growth this year because the company is spending a lot of time on its new headquarters: It has to be designed very specifically to fit QST’s business, and there are a lot of internal aspects that take hours to plan for, he said.

“We think we’ll probably have a very steady growth of at least 20 percent a year,” Quiring predicted. “If we do grow 20 percent a year, we would also have to grow our staff by 20 percent a year.”

The new headquarters will house up to 50 employees, and Quiring expects to reach that level in about three years, at which point he will be ready to kick off the second phase of expansion. HQ

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