Chris Hardman demonstrates operation of the Indiko Plus machine, which can test up to 54 samples at a time. Hardman and Andrea Penn have opened Lake Martin Drug and Alcohol Testing on Tallassee Street.
Chris Hardman demonstrates operation of the Indiko Plus machine, which can test up to 54 samples at a time. Hardman and Andrea Penn have opened Lake Martin Drug and Alcohol Testing on Tallassee Street. | Alison James

Archived Story

‘New wave’ drug testing

Published 10:32am Friday, July 5, 2013

New business uses chemical analysis machine for drug, alcohol testing

It’s not just peeing in a cup anymore.

Drug testing is getting an upgrade.

“With the cups, there’s an accuracy issue there,” explained Chris Hardman, co-owner of the newly opened Lake Martin Drug and Alcohol Testing. “You would test someone, and you would look at it and say, ‘Well, is there a faint line?’ It’s open to interpretation. With this machine, it’s all chemical reagents. We load the urine into what is almost like a centrifuge. It spins and mixes the chemical reagents and gives it a chemical analysis that leaves no room for interpretation.

The machine, known as the Indiko Plus, can handle 54 samples at a time and test for 28 different drugs.

“If it has a reagent on the market, then they can test for it,” explained Gene Cleckler, director of Drug Testing Program Management, which supplies equipment and technology for the Lake Martin facility. “Basically what you’ve got there is any type of drug test that’s available nationwide.”

The new business was the brainchild of Andrea Penn, who co-owns the business with Hardman and was inspired after she was promoted from probation officer in Lee County to supervisor in Columbiana.

“I saw how the Shelby County Community Corrections and the Shelby County drug court ran things, and the machine drug testing part of it was really an intrigue to me,” Penn said. “I started doing research, and along the way I talked to Chris about it, and he was intrigued.”

Machine testing, as opposed to the old school cup method, raises accuracy from 65 percent to 97 percent.

“It’s kind of the new wave of the way everything is going with drug testing,” Hardman said. “We can test anyone who needs a drug test. Someone can suspect their child of using drugs, and as long as we follow the procedures in terms of parental consent and all those things … we can set it, like if they think their son is smoking marijuana, we can set it to test just for marijuana or a wider panel of drugs.”

In addition to suspicious parents, the facility can serve businesses or the court. Penn said they hope to expand their services and hours as the get the business off the ground. They might even open additional satellite offices.

“We saw a need, and we just wanted to be a part of the solution,” Penn said. “We just found this to be our niche, to help the people in the community.”

In addition to up-to-date equipment, Hardman said the facility also uses advanced software programming. Instead of a print-out, drug test results can be provided online through a secure log-in – direct to the computers of judges or employers within minutes of test completion. This also allows the facility to offer mobile service.

“Because we have the analyzer here, we can go, let’s say, to Lee County, (and) we have the capability to get the chain of custody forms. We can drive there and collect the samples, maintain the integrity of the samples, and get them back here and test them,” Hardman said. “We don’t have to then drive back and report the results. We can email the results.”

Another service offered by Lake Martin Drug and Alcohol Testing is computerized random testing, which helps eliminate the potential for someone to beat the test.

“It’s color coded, and it sets a frequency for when that person will be drug tested,” Penn said. “They call a 1-800 number, and every day there is a different color pulled for the 1-800 number recording. That lets the person know when to come in.”

Cleckler said that, as a Dadeville native, he is excited to see this type of business come to the area.

“It’s really high tech software and high tech equipment,” Cleckler said. “They’re able to test for things that arent typical, like carisoprodol. One exciting thing about their lab is that they have the newest online data management that’s out there.”

The business is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at 215 N. Tallassee St. in Dadeville.