Business

Five things you should know about Steve Rusckowski

Steve Rusckowski.
Michele McDonald for the Boston Globe
Steve Rusckowski.

Steve Rusckowski, 57, is the chief executive of Quest Diagnostics, the world’s biggest provider of diagnostic testing services. Through its network of labs, running 24 hours a day, the Madison, N.J.-based company processes the blood and urine samples of millions of Americans. Last year it opened a 200,000-square-foot lab in Marlborough, where it consolidated offices from around New England. Rusckowski recently spoke with Globe reporter Priyanka Dayal McCluskey.

1. Rusckowski and his wife, a nurse, live in Manhattan, but they have roots in Massachusetts. Rusckowski grew up in Connecticut and came here for college and business school. He ended up staying for decades, settling in Andover, raising a family, and running Philips Healthcare in Andover before taking the job at Quest.

“I love the Boston area,” he said. “The universities really make it a small international city.”

2. Quest might not be the biggest household name, but it’s a big player in health care. It employs 45,000 people around the world — including about 1,400 in Massachusetts — and processes the lab tests of one-third of all Americans every year.

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“This industry is about 2 percent of health care costs, yet we provide information for how 70 percent of health care decisions are made. Those decisions are whether the physician stays the course in your treatment and managing your health, whether they decide to write a prescription for a drug, or whether they ask you to go see a specialist. Generally, a large part of that decision-making — what happens next in health care — is based upon the laboratory, or what we call diagnostic information that we provide.”

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3. In addition to checking for glucose and cholesterol levels, Quest is running tests today that wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago. Rusckowski expects these kinds of sophisticated genetic tests to become a bigger part of the company’s business over time.

“The more routine testing is getting more automated and highly efficient. The more advanced, particularly the genetic portion of our portfolio, is evolving rapidly in this day and age.”

4. The company processes many thousands of tests every day from specimens drawn from hospitals, doctors’ offices, and Quest’s own service centers around the country. The specimens are collected by a network of 3,500 couriers and distributed to the appropriate lab facility through a fleet of 24 cargo planes.

“We have a very sophisticated logistics operation,” Rusckowski said. “The blood is drawn during the day, we then do our courier runs to pick up those specimens in the evening, and we bring all those specimens to our central facilities. These facilities are generally busiest from 12 midnight to 8 o’clock in the morning.”

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5. Quest’s New Jersey headquarters is just a short drive from the home of the New York Giants, so when Quest wanted to test a new line of business — sports diagnostics that test athletes for peak performance — it made sense for the company to strike a partnership with the Giants. But it wasn’t easy for Rusckowski, a diehard New England Patriots fan.

“I respect them a great deal. [But] it’s difficult to see the two Super Bowl trophies they won from the New England Patriots in the front lobby.”

Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.