In 1958, Wallace and his brother, Joseph Coulter, Jr., founded Coulter Electronics to manufacture, market and distribute their Coulter Counters. Wallace and Joe, Jr. built the early models, and before air travel, loaded them in their cars or onto trains and personally sold each unit. In 1959, to protect the patent rights in Europe, subsidiaries in the United Kingdom and France were established. The Coulter brothers relocated their growing company to the Miami area in the early sixties, where they remained for the rest of their lives. From the beginning, this was a family company, with Joseph, Sr. serving as secretary-treasurer.
An Industry Leader
Under Wallace’s tenure as chairman of the Corporation, the company developed into the industry leader in blood cell analysis equipment, employing almost 6,000 people, with over 50,000 instrument installations. The company spawned entire families of instruments, reagents and controls not just in hematology, but also in flow cytometry, industrial fine particle analysis, and other laboratory diagnostics. Wallace’s philosophy was to control the entire supply chain for his products: research and development, manufacturing, distribution, sales, financing, training and after-market service.
The Coulter Principle
The Coulter Principle is responsible for the current practice of hematology laboratory medicine. The complete blood count or “CBC” is one of the most commonly ordered diagnostic tests worldwide. Decades after his death, the Coulter Principle is still being used to perform this test. In fact, today the Coulter Principle touches everyone’s life from having a blood test, to painting your house, from drinking beer or a glass of wine, eating a bar of chocolate, swallowing a pill or applying cosmetics. The use of the Coulter Principle modernized industry by establishing a method for quality control and standardization for the particles used in each of these products. It is also critical to space exploration; NASA utilizes it in testing the purity of its rocket fuel. The impact of the Coulter Principle to the medical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, food, beverage and consumer industries is immeasurable.
Wallace focused the resources of the company on advancing cellular analysis. Coulter Corporation was a pioneer in the development of flow cytometry and monoclonal antibodies. These technologies are used in the characterization and treatment of cancer, leukemia/lymphoma, infectious disease, organ transplant, and stem cell analysis. True to his company’s mission of “Science Serving Humanity”, Bexxar – the anti-CD20 immunotherapy, was developed under his guidance. As a result of this continued expansion into “cutting edge” technologies, by the 1990’s, Coulter Corporation was one of the largest privately owned diagnostic companies in the world. In October 1997, Coulter Corporation was acquired by Beckman Instruments, Inc., and the company is now known as Beckman Coulter, Inc.
The Coulter Corporation will always be remembered for its family atmosphere, placing the welfare of its employees and customers ahead of all operational and financial considerations. During negotiations for the sale of the company, Wallace’s final instruction as CEO was, “Take care of my people.” Therefore, upon the sale of the company every employee around the world, regardless of position, received $1,000 for every year of service, totaling $100,000,000.
His own personal field experience in sales and service helped formulate Wallace’s “Rule of a good salesman – List the positives and concentrate on them and after you make the sale, service the needs of your customer the best you can. Do this and you will build a loyal customer base that will stay with you in the hard times.”