One of Columbus’ best-known businessmen has begun the process of handing off daily operational control of his two signature companies.

Tony Moravec, owner of Blairex Laboratories and Applied Laboratories, both located along the Indianapolis Road corridor, promoted Jeff Logston to president of both companies as of New Year’s Day.

Logston, who has a business, legal and administrative background, had been serving as the companies’ vice president of administration and legal affairs.

“Jeff has been with us for more than two years now and demonstrated an excellent track record, good decision-making skills, gets along with all our employees, knows the community well, knows our business well. He seemed to be the perfect match to take over and start handling more of the significant day-to-day details and decision-making,” Moravec said.

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Moravec said he will remain with the companies as chairman and still be involved in new projects while also planning for eventual semi-retirement.

The transition is a significant step for Moravec, who has steadily built the companies over the decades, while also taking on entrepreneurial opportunities and community projects.

“I’m definitely blessed and appreciate the opportunity to work with Tony the past couple years and also learn from him and the great team we have in place. Tony and his family have written a great story and legacy over the past 34 years, and I take my part in continuing that very seriously,” Logston said.

Moravec started Applied Laboratories in 1984 as a regulatory consulting firm.

In the early 1990s, he bought into Blairex Laboratories, which started as a health care company in 1976, and eventually acquired total control. Today, Applied manufactures over-the-counter pharmaceutical products — liquids, ointments, creams, gels — for customers. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste and Simply Saline are among the products produced. Blairex serves as the marketing arm of the business.

Together, Blairex and Applied employ about 120 employees — peak employment in the companies’ histories, Moravec said.

The companies also are undergoing their sixth expansion. A 40,000-square-foot addition to the Blairex building, 1600 Brian Drive, is expected to be completed by mid-summer, with products manufactured in that space by later in the year, Logston said.

Thinking ahead

Moravec, 67, said advancing age and a heart attack in 2013 that required a quadruple bypass served as a wake-up call and started him thinking about a transition plan. Three family members had been part of the companies recently but are now off on their own ventures. Moravec had internal candidates for the president position, but he said he wanted someone with a broader background and perspective.

Logston, 44, grew up in Columbus and graduated from Columbus North High School in 1991. He earned a business degree in college and worked six years in retail and manufacturing management, including as a Target store manager in Ohio.

He then earned a law degree and practiced commercial and municipal law for the Indianapolis firm Kroger, Gardis and Regas.

Logston’s most recent job before joining Moravec was as Columbus city attorney and executive director of administration for former Mayor Kristen Brown.

It was in Logston’s role with the city that Moravec said he first got to interact with Logston and see his skills, as Moravec was negotiating with the city to buy the historic Pump House, to which he eventually brought the Upland Brewing Co. franchise.

With a change in mayoral administration, Logston became available, and Moravec was interested.

“I felt with his expertise and the transactions, the understanding of city operations, he would be beneficial to our company in term of growth and acquisition of facilities, both within Columbus and elsewhere,” Moravec said.

Logston’s legal background also was important because the pharmaceutical industry has many regulatory requirements, Moravec said.

Moravec said he realized in the two years working with Logston that he would be a good fit to lead daily operations, because of skill he’s shown in negotiations with customers, his understanding of regulations, his work on contracts and his background.

“He was an ideal candidate to step into the role,” Moravec said.

Mutual appeal

While Moravec considered long-term possibilities when initially hiring Logston, his new employee said he knew only that joining Moravec was a good next step in his career and an opportunity to make an impact in the community.

Logston said the thought of having multiple responsibilities at a small- to medium-size company was appealing.

“That’s always exciting; that’s a role that I like,” Logston said.

Equally appealing was the opportunity to work with Moravec, he said.

“He’s made such a big impact to the community. There aren’t many entrepreneurs like Tony,” Logston said.

Notably, Moravec purchased the Zaharako family’s old ice cream parlor on Washington Street in 2007, and refurbished it so that its old-time charm could be enjoyed in the community again — including reacquiring the famous Welte organ — and reopened it in 2009. Converting the historic Pump House into a brew pub was another community project. He bought the property in 2015 and opened Upland Columbus Pump House in 2016.

Moving forward

Logston said he wants to build on Moravec’s legacy, which he understands is a challenge in itself.

“It’s exciting but it’s daunting, which I think is a good combination,” Logston said.

The immediate focus, Logston said, includes three things:

Providing high-quality service to customers

Seeing through the expansion of the Blairex building, which also includes the move of manufacturing operations into the Blairex space and converting warehousing space for manufacturing

Growing its contract manufacturing (making a product for a customer)

Achieving growth is a challenge, Logston said, because of the county’s low unemployment rate and the struggle to find qualified workers. That means the company has to be creative in attracting and retaining talent, but also pushing forward on automation, robotics and efficiency to achieve growth.

“We have to continue to do more with what we have,” Logston said.

Moravec also said the transition will include him meeting with Logston and other members of his executive team over the next several months to set a strategy for the next three to five years.

“We kind of have that strategy in place. The key to it is taking care of our current customers and looking for new customers and new products and opportunities,” Moravec said.

Remaining involved

While Moravec has begun pulling back his hands-on involvement, he plans to remain involved because of his passion for the business.

“I’ll probably never totally retire, it’s just too big a part of me,” Moravec said.

He wants to see the expansion through and continue to look for new opportunities for Applied and Blairex.

“I’m more likely to step away as I become more active in other areas of the community,” Moravec said.

Moravec said he is working on some community development and restoration projects, and is working with state and city officials, but can’t share details yet because he’s still trying to pull funding together to make them happen.

Company timeline

Here is a timeline of two companies owned by Columbus entrepreneur Tony Moravec along the Indianapolis Road industrial corridor.

1976: Blairex Laboratories launched as a health care company in Evansville.

1984: Applied Laboratories, a sister company, established by Moravec as a regulatory consulting firm.

1988: Applied Laboratories moves into 20,533-square-foot building in Columbus to begin manufacturing in pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical, medical device and health care industries.

1989: Applied Laboratories adds 20,000-square-foot expansion.

Early 1990s: Moravec buys an interest in Blairex.

1994: Applied expands again, adding 40,000 more square feet.

Mid-1990s: Moravec acquires controlling interest in Blairex.

Late 1990s: Moravec acquires total interest in Blairex and moves company to Columbus.

2001: Blairex Laboratories opens 40,000-square-foot facility in Columbus for pharmaceutical sales, marketing and distribution.

2014: Blairex adds a 40,000-square-foot addition to its Columbus building.

2017: Applied Laboratories begins a 40,000-square-foot expansion that will add 10 new jobs by December 2019.

Jeff Logston

Who: President of Columbus-based Blairex Laboratories and Applied Laboratories, as of Jan. 1

Resides: Columbus

Age: 44

Education:

  • 1991 Columbus North High School graduate
  • Earned bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University (Bloomington campus)
  • Earned law degree from Indiana University (Indianapolis campus)

Work background:

  • Worked in retail and manufacturing management, including as a Target store manager in Ohio
  • Practiced commercial and municipal law at Indianapolis firm Kroger, Gardis and Regas
  • Columbus city attorney and executive director of administration
  • Vice president of administration and legal affairs for Blairex Laboratories and Applied Laboratories, two years

Family: Wife, Edie; two children.

Tony Moravec

Who: Columbus businessman

Age: 67

Born: St. Louis

Education: Bachelor’s of science from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

Companies/businesses owned:

  • Majority shareholder in Moravec Holdings LLC, which owns Applied Laboratories Inc. and Blairex Laboratories Inc.
  • Moravec Realty
  • Zaharakos restaurant
  • Upland Columbus Pump House
  • Upland Brewing Co. shareholder

Family: Wife, Rhonda; two sons, five daughters

Management team

A look at the management structure for Applied Laboratories and Blairex Laboratories

Senior leadership team:

  • Tony Moravec, chairman
  • Jeff Logston, president
  • Glenn Dodge, vice president of finance
  • Andy Murdock, vice president of operations

Management team:

  • Kevin Kelly, senior director of research and development
  • Susan Harbor, director of accounting
  • Jeff Jaggers, facility engineer
  • Sonya Rose, quality control manager
  • Denise Elder, human resources manager
  • Holli Darlage, purchasing manager
  • Brenda Louden, production manager
Author photo
Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.