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Lillestol Research: A Bright Future


  For the staff at Lillestol Research LLC, growth is an appropriate word. When the company began six years ago, Lillestol had two employees and ran about eight clinical research trials at a time. Today, the 2010 ChamberChoice Small Business of the Year has 20 employees, operates 35-40 trials at a given time and just finished an expansion of their facility to include two additional patient exam rooms (for a total of five) and 40 percent more office space.

 Dr. Michael Lillestol, president of Lillestol Research, began doing pharmaceutical research part-time in 1990 with his wife Mary Lillestol, a registered nurse, acting as his research coordinator. Mary, vice president and CFO of Lillestol Research, had picked up a letter set aside as junk mail from the kitchen counter. The letter requested Dr. Lillestol’s help in conducting a clinical trial on Osteoporosis.  With a strong family history of Osteoporosis, his first trial started as a “fluke” and a personal interest.

In 2004, Lillestol Research was formed as a locally owned private research facility focused on conducting clinical trials. Lillestol conducts medical research trials to determine the safety and efficacy of new and upcoming therapeutic drug treatment options. Most of the trials conducted are Phase II or III which means the medications studied are close to or already FDA approved.  The trials are also diagnosis specific, meaning patients do have a medical diagnosis or ailment and are able to participate even if they are on medications.

Patient visits for the trials are similar to a patient visit at a medical clinic and generally last one to three hours at a time. While individuals participate in the trial, Lillestol ensures their patients are taken care of. “We’re very cognizant of treating our patients well,” says Kim Peterson, an attorney and COO of Lillestol Research. “We’re focused on giving them the one-on-one attention they often want from their physician and make sure they realize that we value them and their time.”

The idea of treating people “like family” also extends into the workplace.  The Lillestols employ their daughter, Kim, and their son, John Lillestol, in office management and finance roles.  “Part of our company philosophy is to treat our employees well,” Kim says. “We want our employees to be able to balance work with their family life.”

Employee events include team building exercises and office outings like bowling, an afternoon movie or photo scavenger hunts. They also hold a Christmas party every year with a surprise theme.  Employees have the opportunity to travel a few times a year to “warm” locations for trial meetings sponsored by the 25-30 pharmaceutical companies Lillestol works with.

Representatives from pharmaceutical companies also travel to Lillestol and the Fargo Moorhead area on a regular basis contributing to our local economy. “One of the amazing things about this business is that every penny we earn and bring to the community comes from out of state.  We are a 100 percent primary sector business,” Mary says. “Lillestol Research has brought many people into town who have never been here before. They fly into our airport and stay in our hotels. They are invariably impressed with our community, the quality of work and our patients.”

Lillestol Research isn’t about to stop bringing business to the FM area anytime soon. “We want to grow in the same vein we’ve been growing in,” says Dr. Lillestol. “We will continue to grow steadily and responsibly and do great work for the pharmaceutical companies.”

Congratulate Lillestol Research LLC on being named the 2010 ChamberChoice Small Business of the Year! Visit Lillestol Research's Virtual Expo booth and drop your congratulations in their fishbowl!

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