Ed Price is the President and CEO of PCI Synthesis. PCI Synthesis is a 15-year-old custom chemical manufacturer of new chemical entities (NCEs), generic active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), and other specialty chemical products. A contract manufacturing organization (CMO), PCI provides small and mid-sized companies with expertise needed to manufacture complex small molecules to be used in both the branded and generic market.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s a common issue you see your clients face and how could it be avoided?
Ed: Many mid- to large pharmaceutical companies historically have outsourced overseas the manufacturing of their drugs or drug ingredients. Outsourcing is a good thing, except when the end result is an inferior drug that threatens the safety of the patients who use it. Generics are one area in which this has occurred. There have been a number of instances in countries outside of the U.S. and Europe where the products delivered have been sub-par; as a result, the Food and Drug Administration has tightened its inspection process and guidelines around the quality of raw products and finished drugs. U.S. contract manufacturers have always made quality the top priority; so we are increasingly seeing clients selecting local manufacturers instead of going overseas. The benefits of having a local source, where a strong personal relationship can be forged, issues can be readily addressed and quality can be monitored on a continuous basis, are significant in terms of what ultimately gets delivered to consumers.
BusinessInterviews.com: What influenced your decision over the last few years to focus on upgrading the quality of your different departments with new leadership?
Ed: We are located in the Greater Boston area, which has earned a significant and growing national reputation for its biotech and life sciences industries. Seeing this potential several years ago, we set about learning what emerging and established pharmaceutical companies would need in a trusted, contract manufacturer, and then evaluated what we needed to do to leverage this significant business opportunity. From processes to people, we up-leveled our game so we could service these companies in the best ways possible. Today PCI offers significant talent, superior manufacturing processes and project management, the highest levels of customer service and more; our customers return again and again as a result.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s one marketing approach that’s worked well for you?
Ed: As the drug manufacturing industry has become more complex and regulated, companies are looking for a closer relationship with their contract manufacturers. At PCI, we’ve worked hard to establish and strengthen relationships with companies in our own backyard of Greater Boston. Location is everything in this regard, because a local partner can be onsite at the company quickly and vice versa. Being in the same time zone makes real-time communication and collaboration easier, whether it is in-person or on the phone. While marketing locally is not the only effort we undertake, we find that business moves quicker when you’re a trusted partner of a company within the same general area.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you provide an example of when you were able to collaborate with a client to solve a small problem before it became unmanageable?
Ed: Sure. We were contracted recently by a large pharmaceutical company working on phase 2 clinical supplies. They were scaling up and we were collaborating closely with them. In the early part of the project, there was a great deal of chemistry to get up to speed on. Our team and theirs worked seamlessly together, and our team was able to make suggestions as we went along in research and development. For example, we made recommendations around molecules and batch production, which reduced the number of test batches that needed to be produced. Ultimately, these changes led to a significant savings in both time and money.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some of the key ways that the chemical manufacturing industry changed and evolved over the last 15 years?
Ed: Perhaps the most significant evolution in the past 15 years has been the changing face of the customer. Ten or so years ago, the concept of a virtual company really didn’t exist in this industry; every business was brick and mortar. Today, a wide variety of customers exist: brick and mortar, virtual, semi-virtual, and everything in between. We need to know the customer even better, hone in on their strategy and understand how their business model operates, today as well into the future.
Another important way the industry has changed, and this is also a good thing, is in the complexity of regulations and the market itself. There is more of a willingness to outsource, to be sure, and there is a growing trend to source locally. Regulations and processes are being tightened to safeguard the end products/drugs being delivered to consumers. New centers of expertise are gaining prominence, as in the case for the Greater Boston area. The market is growing and creating opportunities for businesses that can deliver quality and follow federally mandated guidelines.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s a lesson that you’ve learned in the art of building relationships?
Ed: I think there are several lessons I’ve learned in the art of building relationships. First, as this is a complicated business with so many moving parts, it is important to remember that a collaborative relationship with your partner means equally sharing ideas and expertise. Relationships have a natural give and take feel to them, and successful relationships are based on respecting the insights and knowledge that individual team members bring to the table as things change or problems need to be solved. But sometimes getting to that point of mutual respect can be challenging; people may not always be truthful in the beginning, so you need to watch for that. There is nothing wrong with standing up for yourself and your organization, as it can strengthen the relationship and start to build a sense of trust. Once you get beyond these early triggers to the point where there is trust, a true sense of collaboration and positive teamwork, the relationship can move solidly forward on whatever project is at hand.
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