Interview with David Thomas, managing director of AlphaBiolabs

David Thomas director of Alphabiolabs dna testing
AlphaBiolabs MD David Thomas
AlphaBiolabs provides DNA testing plus drug and alcohol testing services to a client base which includes members of the public, businesses, family and immigration law solicitors, social services, the media (including The Jeremy Kyle Show) and universities.
The company, founded in 2004, has one of the largest laboratories of its kind in Europe. It won a Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2016.
AlphaBiolabs is based in Warrington and operates 10 walk-in centres which offer access to its testing services and convenient sites for sample collections.

 

What’s the secret to your success? 

Working through challenges and never giving up. I’ve been in the industry for nearly 20 years. During that time I’ve seen the highs and lows of running a business and the industry as a whole. Never giving up when things get tough has taken me a long way. Initially, I was involved in every aspect of the business. However, as AlphaBiolabs has grown over the years, I’ve learned to build teams and delegate, so nowadays my role is more focused on overseeing the business.

Who in your life has influenced you most and why? 

My father. He taught me not to rely on anybody in relation to my financial future. From him I learned the value of positive and negative consequences when you take action or indeed fail to act, and therefore I took responsibility from an early age.

What do you do for fun? 

I enjoy going to the gym, watching movies and taking long walks with my family. I also enjoy socialising with relatives and friends whenever possible.

What’s the best bit of business advice you’ve been given? 

Always put the customer first.  We don’t lose sight of what our customers want or need, and work to improve our services to deliver a better solution and experience than they get from the competition. Innovation is what drives AlphaBiolabs forward, and in 2016 this led to one of our proudest achievements – winning a Queen’s Award.

If you could have a 1 to 1 with anyone past or present who would it be with and why?  

I’m interested in the scientists who have gone before us and have shaped our world as it is today. I would find it fascinating to have a coffee with the likes of James Watson and Francis Crick, the scientists who discovered that DNA is the hereditary material that we pass on to our children, or with Isaac Newton, to understand their journey and hear their stories. I’m equally interested in successful business people such as Richard Branson and Lord Sugar.

What is the biggest challenge in your industry right now? 

Undoubtedly the skills shortage and strong downward pressure on sale prices. With currency uncertainties, we are also experiencing increasing costs from our USA and European suppliers, which is causing a squeeze on profits. Within our sector, there have been some high-profile recent business failings and I believe those were some of the key factors which had a significant impact.

Tell us about the most memorable client or customer that you have interacted with during your years in business? 

All customers are vitally important to us. Our customer base is large and varied, including legal professionals and local authorities helping the family law courts, and big businesses such as hydropower plants, aviation companies and commercial TV networks. We work with individuals as well and regularly provide life-changing results, so they are all very memorable for completely different reasons.

How is Brexit affecting/going to affect your business? 

Most of our customers will continue to require our services irrespective of the Brexit outcome. Brexit may possibly help with export sales due to the potential of a weaker pound, depending on goods successfully passing through borders However, one big danger could be disruption to the supply chain, including the potential of significantly increasing costs.

Where do you believe are the biggest opportunities right for your business and in your sector? 

We believe the DNA testing plus drug and alcohol testing markets are still growing and therefore there remain plenty of opportunities in the UK.  However, those markets in the United States are considerably larger than in the UK, and therefore we believe our biggest opportunities for faster expansion may lie there.

How do you motivate your staff? 

I believe our team naturally want to do the best job possible. We have worked hard to develop a culture that is very forward-thinking, positive and performance-driven. We want our team to feel proud to work at AlphaBiolabs. By delivering same-day results for DNA testing , drug and alcohol testing in contrast to the usual 5-7 working days that is the norm with other laboratories, our team derive a strong sense of value and belief in what they are achieving on a daily basis.

What do you most enjoy about running your business? 

My greatest pleasure at AlphaBiolabs is watching our team develop and to see individuals advance in their careers, along with the fact that what we deliver adds value and provides genuine solutions for people. By adding value to the lives of our customers, I gain a great deal of satisfaction that the team and I are making positive difference.

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