It all started
Dr. Andrew T. Armstrong and his wife Mrs. Kay Armstrong, began providing analytical consulting services to the Origin and Cause Industry as Armstrong Consultants. Dr. Armstrong’s first court appearance in 1976 was related to a fire on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU) consuming a SMU ballroom. Dr. Armstrong testified that the ignition source was due to static electricity which ignited the vapors present from recently applied lacquer.
Armstrong Consultants purchased its first gas chromatography (GC) on a simple handshake, and the Armstrong's began their grand adventure with a single GC in the utility room of their home. In 1977, Dr. Armstrong was awarded the White Helmet Award from the City of Arlington Fire Department, the Highest Civilian Award presented by the City.
Dr. Armstrong had written and co-written several scientific papers, but Dr. Armstrong as the first to describe the use of high resolution capillary column gas chromatography for the identification of ignitable liquids in fire debris. Dr. Armstrong lead the way for the Orgin and Cause Industry to serve the communities and convict arsonists and reduce insurance fraud.
Armstrong Forensic Laboratory, Inc. (Armstrong) was born in 1981 as the company incorporated as a C-Corporation in the State of Texas. Armstrong was the first private forensic laboratory serving the Orgin and Casue Industry. The company moved from their utility room to an 800 square foot warehouse / office facility.
In 1985, Armstrong understood and anticipated the needs and growth of the Environmental community as well as Health and Safety Professionals. Armstrong expanded its analtyical services into General, Environmental, and Industrial Hygiene analytical support. Armstrong was recognized by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) which is now known as the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) as an accredited laboratory.
In 1986, the business continued expanding! Armstrong moved to a new location which was exclusively built for its growing laboratory and support services (evidence storage and consulting services). In 1987, Armstrong was acknowledged by the U.S. EPA as a competent laboratory, and Armstrong added an accreditation from the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) to its Quality Control Program in 1988.
Continuing to grow
With Kay Armstrong as the President, and primary shareholder, the company was recognized as a Woman/Minority-Owned Business. Kay’s foresight and natural business acumen complimented Dr. Armstrong’s technical expertise and has served the business well.
Armstrong earned recognition from the State of Texas Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Program as a woman owned business. The recognition from the state HUB allowed for regional recognitions from both the North Central Texas Regional Certification Agency and the South Central Texas Regional Certification Agency which opened the doors for new opportunities on a state and federal level.
- 21st Century
After years of providing Expert Witness Testimony on a variety of case work, Armstrong sought out to become an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited laboratory in 2007. Armstrong believed this Crime Lab accreditation complimented its Orgin and Cause services. Armstrong is one of a handful of private laboratories, throughout the world, accredited by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) for disciplines in Drug Chemistry, Toxicology and Trace Evidence. ANAB is a signatory of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) multilateral recognition arrangements.
In addition, Armstrong acquired the Perry Johnson Laboratory Accreditation (PJLA) and began testing consumer products to meet Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requirements.
Armstrong and its Associates have received a number of achievements and Client recognition awards.
A few of the most treasured are:
- Salutes to Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievements, DFW Section, ACS, 2001.
- Forensic Science Award in Recognition of Technical and Administrative Contributions to ASTM-International Committee E-30, standards development, and the Forensic Science Industry, February 2007.
- Texas Family Business of the Year – Small Family Business, presented by Baylor University, The Institute for Family Business, 2008.
Having started the business in their home, Dr. Andrew and Mrs. Kay Armstrong have led the company, and its now 30+ employees, through consistent growth and expansion opportunities. The passion for solving problems that the Founders’ brought forth continues to excite and motivate both the Management Team and Associates. Each project receives personalized attention from Evidence Receipt through issuing the Final Report and beyond if storage or further consultation and services are needed.
The decision to leave the contract consulting venture in 1978 and break-out into the analytical laboratory industry was never a difficult decision for the Founders. Based on a mutual understanding of the fundamental requirements that good solid science requires and an unflinching commitment to integrity and untiring work ethic, the husband and wife team had no alternative but to begin a new enterprise. Dr. Armstrong admittedly never set out to become an international expert in ignitable liquid chemistry, but the interest in basic science and the unquenchable desire to answer the unanswerable questions, catapulted the Associate Professor of Chemistry into the intriguing world of arson investigation, courtroom testimony and insurance fraud. Dr. Armstrong realized early in the company’s history that his expertise was purely technical and, while extensive, he had no personal desire to cross-over into the area of business management.