AAIPharma Opens New Lab Facility

Aaipharma Opens New Lab Facility [Star-News, Wilmington, N.C.]

From Star-News (Wilmington, NC) (April 24, 2012)

April 24--AAIPharma Services opened its new Technology Center in Wilmington Tuesday, the most visible sign of the company’s recent expansion and its plans for even more growth in the coming years.

The 40,000-square-foot facility just off North 23rd Street is the first physical expansion of the company’s lab facilities in 10 years, said CEO Patrick Walsh. The Wilmington-based company also plans to add 40 to 50 jobs by the end of the year, he said.

Besides the completely automated lab, AAIPharma plans to begin expansion of its pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities here and in Charleston, S.C., in the current quarter, Walsh said. The company also plans to finish its move into the new lab by the end of the quarter.

Walsh said the company needed state-of-the-art labs and equipment so it can compete on a global basis.

Global competition was a recurrent theme in his talk to a gathering of employees and elected officials at the tech center’s entrance on a windy and sunny day.

"We’ve invested more than $15 million in the Carolinas -- not in Singapore, not in China, not somewhere else abroad where our competitors are choosing to.

"We think the American work force is a real differentiator. We also are betting heavily that our clients will also recognize this.

"Ultimately, when you look at the benefits of having a fully automated analytical and product development facility" built around the rich Research Triangle Park and Wilmington areas, "we think that will be the differentiator and be one of the company’s 10, 15, 20 years from now, that we will still be a primary figure in the industry."

AAIPharma Services works with pharmaceutical companies, doing materials testing and analysis, helping to formulate their products.

"We make the product; we don’t own it," Walsh said. "We are a contract manufacturing organization (CMO)," as opposed to a contract research organization, such as PPD, much of whose business is in clinical trials.

AAIPharma makes some of the top-selling veterinary and pharmaceutical products in the world for top brands and generics, he said.

In fact, if you’re giving your pet medicines right not, it’s probable those went through AAIPharma product development and manufacturing, Walsh said during a tour of the sleek new offices and sizable labs, each holding tens of thousands of dollars of the latest equipment.

The company is coming off a financially strong first quarter, Walsh said, and those results are expected to continue.

He did not give revenues or profits for the company, which is owned by private equity firm Water Street Healthcare Partners. But he did say this year’s revenues would be "somewhere in the 15 percent growth range."

In January, AAIPharma announced that it had acquired Celsis Analytical Services, adding a total of 65,000 square feet of lab space in Edison, N.J., and St. Louis.

The company now employs about 600 people at all of its facilities, with the majority in Wilmington, and has more than 600 active clients, Walsh said.

In July 2009, Water Street acquired the pharmaceutical division of AAIPharma Inc., and committed up to $75 million in equity financing to expand that business.

At that time, the clinical research part of the former AAIPharma Inc. was split off and became ZeeCRO Inc., which is based in Cary.

"There’s a fantastic future for the company here," Walsh said. "There are a lot of places to do this work. We’re putting a lot of capital in the facilities, so that we can compete with anybody on a global basis.

"I have been blessed. It’s a great place to recruit scientific talent," he said, "and there have been no issues at all in finding the right employees."

"We took a long hard look at (expanding the facilities). So much of our competition are sending jobs to the Far East," Walsh said.

"We’ve chosen to invest in the U.S., specifically in North Carolina and with American work forces."

Wayne Faulkner: 343-2329

On Twitter: @bizniznews

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(c)2012 the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.)

Visit the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) at www.starnewsonline.com

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Posted: April 2012


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