The Faces of Luminex: Ben Treece, Quality Assurance
If a Luminex reagent, assay, or instrument is manufactured in our Austin headquarters, its quality compliance has been checked by Ben Treece, Senior Manager of Quality Assurance, and his team. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and joined Luminex in 2006.
Q: What are your responsibilities at Luminex?
A: I’m responsible for product quality for all of the instruments, reagents, and assays manufactured here in Austin. The job is very diverse, which is one of the things I like about this position. I can deal with quality issues from parts provided by suppliers one minute and then next be on the phone with one of our customers who’s having a challenge. It involves a lot of external and internal communications and everything from working with R&D on new projects to investigating customer complaints and helping compose validation protocols.
Q: What did you do before this job?
A: I worked for a really small family-owned company that made custom plastics for very high-end applications like military use. I was the only chemist on staff doing all of the formulations, but I was also responsible for quality control testing. That led to a quality control job at a company making orthopedic implants, my last position before joining Luminex. The roles I’ve had are much more focused on production support than research, and they tend to be fast-paced, so I’m always onto something new.
Q: What drew you to Luminex?
A: What I’ve learned from past positions is that the value of the quality function is a lot more apparent and appreciated in a regulated industry. At that time Luminex was beginning to embark on their IVD products, so that was one of the things that appealed to me. Plus they had really interesting products and technology.
Q: If you weren’t in quality assurance at Luminex, where would you be?
A: A few years ago I started homebrewing beer, and if I had started that in college I might have done something in that arena. It has some science in it: you have to control the chemical reactions, fermentation, temperature, and pH when you’re brewing beer. But there’s also a creative side, where you’re developing recipes and trying new ingredients to see what flavors they give.
Q: If you could solve any clinical or genetic challenge, what would it be?
A: It would probably be Lou Gehrig’s disease. I’ve known a few people who have been diagnosed with that. They’re usually in the prime of their life and have families when they get the news. Having to observe the sudden impact it has on somebody, it would be wonderful to have a breakthrough to overcome this challenge.
Q: What is something about you that no one at Luminex knows?
A: When I started at Luminex I was still really into caving — putting on some old clothes and strapping on a helmet and crawling into small holes in very large caves. I even learned how to rappel. Caving is obviously physically challenging, but it’s a pretty big mental challenge as well. When you get into those confined spaces, you feel the panic rising, and your brain has to tell you to get through it. I’ve been to caves around the Austin area and also took caving trips to places like Mexico and Kentucky.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Austin on the weekend?
A: Every couple of months a new brewery opens up, and I enjoy seeing their equipment and tasting their beers. Usually, they have a particular type of beer that I wouldn’t have the time to make. Fortunately, my wife is tolerant of that and always gives them a try as well. Also, if it is above freezing and below 90°F, it would be likely to see us on a local trail enjoying the outdoors.