Celebrating 90 years of working together to build a healthier and safer world

In 1931, Howard Harlan founded a company that would, over the decades, evolve and expand to become Envigo. Christening his new business Harlan, Howard set about building his company’s reputation as a peerless supplier of high-quality laboratory animals. Within ten years, the name Harlan was entirely synonymous with pre-clinical research performed to the most exacting standards.

In 1961, Howard’s son – Hal P. Harlan – took over the day-to-day running of the business, which by then numbered ten employees. The following year, the business was incorporated and we duly underwent our first name change to become Harlan Industries. As the world’s scientific researchers kept broadening their horizons and redefining what was possible, Harlan Industries kept pace with them.

During the 1970s, Hal Harlan supervised the construction of several isolator and barrier-breeding facilities. Utilizing leading-edge thinking and technology, these facilities allowed Harlan Industries to vastly improve the health status and quality of animals supplied to universities and pharmaceutical companies.

For example, when isolator technology was first brought in-house in 1972, it enabled the Harlan Industries team to entirely rederive and clean up the microbiological health status of their models. The independent, rigorous consistency that has become the calling card of our business can arguably be traced back to this internal revolution.

As our reputation continued to rise above competitors, Harlan Industries began an ambitious expansion program that would put us on the path to becoming the 1,200-employee company we are today. Within a few short years, Harlan acquired Spartan Research Animals, Sprague Dawley®, Teklad, MA Laboratory Animals, TIMCO Breeding Laboratories, Engle Laboratory Animals Inc., Laboratory Supply Company Inc., Serotec, Southern Animal Farms, the Holtzman Company (producer of the Holtzman albino rat), and the Central Institute for Breeding of Laboratory Animals.  

It was during this 1980s period of bold expansion that we underwent our second name-change to become Harlan Sprague Dawley, Inc. We also dramatically increased our available stocks and strains of laboratory animals to more than 240. Our globally sought-after models now included the mice, rats, and hamsters that had previously been produced by Germany’s Hannover Institute and the Netherlands’ TNO Institute.

Our acquisitions and expansions into new territories continued into the 1990s, with Harlan Sprague Dawley Inc. establishing its presence in the UK, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Israel, Mexico, France, and Spain. By now, the company’s products and services had expanded. Alongside laboratory animals, we now also offered animal diets, immunological and biological products, health screening, and an array of other technical services.

As we entered the new millennium, the organization that Howard Harlan started back in 1931 had become extraordinarily multifaceted. Therefore, the decision was made in 2008 to unite all of the business’s brands under one banner: Harlan Laboratories Inc. Our newly streamlined and single-minded company was centered around a straightforward, unwavering vision: helping customers perform better research.

Through the acquisition by Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) in 2015, Harlan Labs expanded to better meet the needs and expectations of these customers. HLS opted to rename and rebrand its new acquisition to better suit the needs and expectations of 21st-century research scientists, and Envigo was born. Continuing our drive to strengthen through streamlining, we further tightened our focus on where it all began. 

In early 2019, we announced that LabCorp’s Covance Drug Development segment would acquire our nonclinical research services business and Envigo’s Research Models Services business would acquire the Covance Research Products business. This resulted in our becoming a pure-play research models and services business, while Covance would expand its global nonclinical drug development capabilities. At the end of 2019, we acquired the assets of the research models business unit of Horizon Discovery Group plc (“Horizon”, LSE:HZD). By acquiring this business unit, we were able to offer customers the use of gene-editing technology and expertise to produce customized models with relevant gene deletions, insertions, and other modifications, which are then used as models for human disease during drug discovery and development.

That brings us full circle to 2021. Over the last 90 years, pre-clinical research has achieved countless remarkable things – not least among them being victories over existential threats such as polio, malaria, influenza, and, most recently, the advance to fight COVID-19. From Harlan to Envigo, our people have always prided themselves on offering the strongest possible support to the scientists, striving to create these modern miracles. We know that to effectively empower researchers, we need to work diligently and conscientiously. This exacting attitude permeates every facet of Envigo’s culture, so we may work together to build a healthier and safer world.

As a business, we may have grown, but we still think of ourselves as an invested extension of each research team that we serve. Put simply, we’re experts in animal models so that research scientists don’t have to be. Instead, they can focus all their skills and attention on tackling unmet clinical needs. We value doing our best work, together, every day. Learn more about our rich history here. 

Our business model has worked well for nine decades, and we’re confident it will continue to do well into the future. See you in 2031 to celebrate our centennial!