About Us: History
Kirby Lester: A Leader Since 1971
Kirby Lester is located in Lake Forest, IL, a northern suburb
of Chicago, amid a vibrant healthcare technology community.
Our Lake Forest home base includes a pharmacy showroom
and extensive facilities for research, development
and service for our 40,000+ customers.
More than 40 years, 40 countries and 40,000 customers — no other pharmacy automation company can match Kirby Lester's commitment to the pharmacy industry. Our company has played a pioneering role in pharmacy technology, dating to 1971.
Until the 1970s, the local community pharmacy was a fairly simple operation. The pharmacist knew most patients by name and did most of the filling with an inexpensive tray and spatula. The concept of chain pharmacy was in its infancy.
About that time, new medications were being developed and released at an ever-increasing pace and drug prices were on the rise. Soon, the community pharmacist realized that increased volumes did not always result in increased profits. Plus, he was working longer hours and/or hiring additional staff to handle the increased workload. This extra work was moving the pharmacist's focus away from the customer and to the filling station.
Thus, the concept of using a machine to count medications was born. Such technology could increase staff productivity and efficiency. It also meant that pharmacists might be able to take on even greater prescription volumes and still maintain high standards of customer contact and satisfaction. At the forefront of this idea was Kirby Lester. From its beginnings in Stamford, CT in 1971, Kirby Lester developed what became an indispensable pharmacy tool: the small, affordable and highly accurate Kirby Lester tablet counter. In the ensuing decade, the KL7, KL8 and KLX machines became mainstays atop pharmacy dispensing stations.
Building on the success of its pharmacy-based tablet counters, Kirby Lester next focused on an unmet need in industrial settings such as pharmaceutical, manufacturing and specialty pharmacies. There, technicians needed a small, affordable solution to count and bottle medications when volume did not justify a full robotics/conveyor system. Kirby Lester applied its expertise in counting technology and patented a line of high-speed machines for counting and bottle filling. Like their pharmacy-based counterparts, these industrial units were designed to be fast, yet still fit on a tabletop and be simple to operate. In the 1980s and '90s the company began developing a new lineup of systems, the KL25, KL50 and KL200. These machines continue to serve a wide variety of industries needing small- and mid-volume packaging and verification - without the high cost of fully automated filling systems.
Kirby Lester continued to focus on its core market of community pharmacy throughout the 1990s and developed the now-world famous KL15e pill counter. Simpler than anything ever used in the industry, the KL15e set a new standard for pill counters. This revolutionary machine quickly developed a reputation for being simple, ergonomic, and nearly flawless in its accuracy. At the turn of the millennium, Kirby Lester followed with the KL16 counting and verification system. The KL16 added important verification steps with its onboard computer and touch screen monitor. Processing orders was still fast, but this new technology made it even safer. Kirby Lester added a direct-fill function to the tray version KL15e and KL16, a feature that many pharmacy technicians enjoy.
Today, community and outpatient pharmacies are turning to technology and pharmacy automation as an obvious solution to industry challenges like staffing shortages and prescription volume increases. They are eager to employ advanced technologies that speed up processing times while making dispensing safer and more precise. The "next-generation" KL20
, "all-in-one" KL30
and the KL60
robotic dispensers are perfect examples of enhancing and adapting Kirby Lester technology to meet the diverse needs of pharmacy markets. The KL1
compact tablet counters round out Kirby Lester's full line of automation. Kirby Lester's future product strategy is simple: provide our customers with accurate, affordable, reliable and simple ways to safely count and dispense medications...exactly!
Kirby Lester's full line includes simple tablet counters to dispensing systems with workflow software and automated counting, even pharmacy robots.
Kirby Lester Milestones
|1967-70||John and Frank Kirby developed technology for portable digital tablet counting.|
|1971||The Kirbys and Rodney Lester moved their new company from Oldham, England to Stamford, CT.|
New technology: KL7 tablet counter introduced, followed by KL8 and KLX over the next 15 years.|
New technology: KL25, KL50 and KL200 introduced for pre-packing and batch-counting; |
Kirby Lester's customer base expanded beyond pharmacy to pharmaceutical and nutraceutical manufacturing, as well as "widget" makers who use Kirby Lester technology for exact counting.
New technology: KL15e tablet counter introduced; now used by almost 20,000 customers worldwide.|
New technology: KL16 introduced; Kirby Lester's first device to combine counting |
with verification software.
Garry Zage-led ownership team purchased Kirby Lester.|
Partnerships with 10 new international distributors continued expansion into new markets.|
Company headquarters moved to Lake Forest, IL (suburban Chicago).|
New technology: "next-generation" KL20 dispensing and verification system introduced;|
100% verification of all medications.
Kirby Lester entered its 35th country (Kuwait).
New technology: "all-in-one" KL30 dispensing system introduced; included hands-free dispensing.|
New technology: KL60 introduced; the world's first compact robotic dispenser|
at just 29" wide and 46" long.
Kirby Lester welcomed its 40,000th customer.
Kirby Lester celebrated its 40th anniversary.|
Kirby Lester entered its 40th country (Malaysia and Afghanistan).
New technology: KL1 compact tablet counter
New technology: KL1Plus streamlilned counting plus verification device
New technology: KL100 midsized robotic dispensing for medium- to high-volume pharmacies