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Commitment to Mission Inspires Success

Commitment to Mission Inspires Success

On-Line Instrument Systems, Inc. CEO Julie Ann DeSa Lorenz Says Focus on Reducing Waste Now Saves Animals As Well As Money


Devin: What do you see as your superpower?

Julie: I have this incredible commitment to something that I started and that I saw the value in. I stayed with it for my entire life. I read a beautiful quote the other day. The irony of commitment is how liberating it can be. And that’s really true. I’ve been liberated by the fact that there’s never been a plan B; I’m going to get these products used by as many people as possible for the betterment of mankind.

“We’re one of the few American manufacturers of high-end laboratory instruments,” says Julie Anne DeSa Lorenz, CEO of On-Line Instrument Systems, Inc. “We got our start back in the 70s when my father, a research biochemist, had learned to program computers.”

Years before the invention of the PC, Dr. Richard DeSa recognized the market opportunity to connect computers to lab equipment. The company gained traction by helping companies retrofit high-quality laboratory technology purchased before computers became commonplace.

“It’s always been my love of this company was that we were upcycling equipment, so we were therefore reducing the wasted instrumentation, extending its lifespan,” Julie says. Under her leadership, the company is focusing more broadly on reducing waste.

The company’s technology allows for lab work to be done with dramatically improved efficiency, eliminating waste.

Photo credit: Jamie Derevere

But a product that my father developed around 2000 or so dramatically simplifies the preparation of a sample for measurement. This goes beyond simple product waste. “We are reducing the number of animals being sacrificed in the name of better eyedrops or whatever,” Julie says.

Julie’s long career has benefitted from her commitment to the company and its work, something she now sees as her superpower.

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AI Podcast Summary

  • Today’s guest is Julie Ann DeSa Lorenz, the CEO of Online Instrument Systems Inc. 

  • The company is a manufacturer of high-end laboratory instruments and was founded by Julie’s father, a research biochemist, in the 1970s. 

  • They initially focused on upcycling existing equipment and later started producing their own instruments designed for upgradability. 

  • Their instruments, like spectrophotometers, are used in scientific research and analysis, including in fields like pharmaceuticals, vaccine development, and water management. 

  • Julianne’s company is dedicated to reducing waste in the lab by developing technology that simplifies sample preparation and reduces the need for consumables and excess materials. 

  • She believes that providing scientists with better tools can lead to more efficient work and cost savings. 

  • Julianne’s superpower is her unwavering commitment to her work and continuous growth and learning. 

  • She emphasizes the importance of staying focused and dedicated, even during challenging times. 

  • Julianne encourages others to find something they are passionate about and commit to it wholeheartedly. 

  • To learn more about Julie and her company, visit her LinkedIn profile and the Online Instrument Systems website.

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How to Develop Commitment As a Superpower

Julie’s career has not been all smooth sailing. “No matter where the winds have taken us. And over the decades, we’ve been through a lot of ups and downs. I just got on my knees or whatever it took to ride through it. But even in the worst of times, I would literally say there is no plan B; this has to work.”

“And that assurance that it was going to work made it possible for me to get up off the floor and come back into the office and do what needed to be done,” she says. “Once you ride through that deepest of valleys, then you’re back up on another upswing again.”

She hopes everyone can develop this sense of commitment. “I wish everyone could find something that they’re that passionate about where they just feel like ‘this is what my purpose is. This is what I was made to do. This feels right.’”

She invites you to doubt the doubts that may come. “Go back and remember why it felt so good and tap into that when you’re feeling low because, again, the valleys are going to happen. The self-doubt is going to come along. The other opportunities will present themselves well.”

When the challenges come, she suggests you ask yourself, “Do any of those things have that resonance, that heft that your early commitment felt?”

By deflecting your doubts as she suggests, following her example, you can work at making commitment your superpower, enabling you to do more good in the world.

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Guest-Provided Profile

Julie Ann DeSa Lorenz (she/her):

Owner/ CEO, On-Line Instrument Systems, Inc. (OLIS)

About On-Line Instrument Systems, Inc. (OLIS): OLIS was founded in the 1970s by a research biochemist who was the first to computerize data acquisition from a laboratory instrument. His 1969 paper attracted the attention of others, and for 15 years, the company successfully modernized an ever-expanding range of best-in-class, pre-PC spectrophotometers by computerizing them. The original incentive was to reduce time and effort by the researcher. The consequence was better science and reduced waste in science. In addition to keeping hundreds of still best-in-class spectrophotometers in labs and out of the landfill, the company started pioneering products of its own in 1992. Every OLIS product is endlessly upgradable; they all have designed-in upgradability instead of the tragically ubiquitous designed-in obsolescence common in the modern era. Among our inventions of the 2000s is a technology that eliminates a hugely consumable-intensive step, furthering our commitment and success in achieving better results with reduced waste. In the 2020s, the company is focusing on expanding the use of this technology beyond research laboratories and into the quality control and quality assurance labs of pharma, beer, wine, and paints.


Biographical Information: The daughter of a genius scientist/ inventor, I have spent my life learning about and using technologies long before they reach the average consumer. I was a year old while my father was developing electronics and stereo amplifiers. I was six when he started coding. I was 16 when the University of Michigan purchased the first OLIS Data Acquisition/ Instrument Control System. In college, I was the first student to submit assignments written on a PC and printed on a dot-matrix printer. And, I was in my 30s when Dad and I wrote his first patent for the Subtractive Double Grating rapid-scanning monochromator with moving intermediate slit. I am comfortable with the sales and marketing, and product development; and in 2015, when the company needed me to take over as CEO, I became comfortable with leadership. I am highly motivated to be as green as possible. I found a family in the teachers and classmates of the Inner MBA, which I completed in May 2023. The company is poised to become B Corp certified in 2023.


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Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
We host changemakers who are using regulated investment crowdfunding for social impact--impact crowdfunding--as impact investors or social entrepreneurs, catalyzing change with leadership skills we call superpowers.