Introducing The “Three Blood Brothers”

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How many of you remember the “Seven Sisters” or the “Big Six?” These were terms used by the business press and media to describe the seven major oil companies (Standard Oil, Gulf, Atlantic Richfield, Union Oil, Exxon, Shell and Mobil). The “Big Six” were the large certified public accounting companies, such as Arthur Anderson, Coopers & Lybrand, etc.

Around our offices, we have taken to calling the three national laboratories the “Three Blood Brothers.” For us, it is a simple way to refer to Laboratory Corporation of America, Quest Diagnostics Incorporated and SmithKline Beecham Clinical Laboratories. Jokesters among our staff like the humor implied by the title as well.

Apparently we are not alone in our appreciation of that nickname. At THE DARK REPORT’s Executive War College in New Orleans recently, our Editor referred to the national laboratories as the “Three Blood Brothers.” As the audience chuckled, he explained how the LabCorp-Quest-SmithKline triumvirate earned that title. It seemed the audience appreciated the obvious humor of this nickname.

That being the case, I considered it an opportunity to have some fun with this column. I figured you might also be amused. After all, having “Three Blood Brothers” as the industry giants in our profession is fitting, given the amount of real blood which passes through laboratories every day.

It is also fitting, given that the three national laboratories struggled mightily during the last three years to achieve financial stability. At least two of the Three Blood Brothers required financial transfusions to remain alive. Each of the Three Blood Brothers endeavors today to restore financial balance to their company.

In fact, as you read this issue of THE DARK REPORT, you will learn that the Three Blood Brothers are finally reaching such desperate straits that they are now willing to drop unprofitable client accounts. That still begs the question as to whether they continue to price new business at loss-leader levels. But it is a sign that they can no longer afford to ignore obvious areas of major savings.

In the process of restructuring these unprofitable client accounts, the Three Blood Brothers will help laboratories throughout the United States restore profitable levels of pricing for tests and related services… but only if competitors exercise similar pricing discipline. Otherwise, the financial bloodbath will continue for all laboratories in the industry.


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