It all began one afternoon in 1984 in Glasgow, Scotland at the Anderson Strathclyde Board of Directors meeting. Kenton E. McElhattan, National Mine Service Company President & CEO and Anderson Strathclyde board member, was challenged by Anderson Strathclyde’s Chief Financial Officer for having requested $600 to purchase a used microscope. The microscope was sorely needed by the Industrial Safety Division of National Mine Service to conduct research on better ways of sensing methane gas. Concluding a rather spirited discussion that afternoon, McElhattan pulled his personal checkbook from his briefcase and asked, “To whom should I make the $600 check payable?”
At the time, 51% of National Mine Service was owned by Anderson Strathclyde. As a producer of heavy mining machinery and mining systems, Anderson Strathclyde struggled to understand the research and development needs of National Mine Service in order to develop gas monitoring products for use by workers in underground mines.
With a vision of a company in which employees had a voice and were encouraged to use it, McElhattan ultimately proposed a resolution whereby he would return to the U.S. and, along with his son Kent, purchase the Industrial Safety Division of National Mine Service. On January 25, 1985, the purchased division became known as Industrial Scientific. Since then, Industrial Scientific has grown to become the world’s leading provider of gas detection products and services. The company helps to keep hundreds of thousands of workers safe in hazardous environments around the world – all thanks to a little microscope.