RALEIGH, N.C. — ImmunoReagents President/CEO Ann Black, Ph.D. is living the mantra of making lemonade out of lemons in the face of life-changing professional challenges, while contributing innovative approaches to in vitro diagnostics and life science research. Her unique story is part of this CarolinaTechNews Q&A, following her company’s participation in the recent CED 2016 Life Science Conference.
Q: When was your company founded and why?
A: We were founded in October 2005, and just celebrated our 10th anniversary. Fortron Bioscience (Morrisville) was sold to R&D systems in June 2005 and they shut Fortron down, eliminating our jobs. Fortron was a biotech manufacturing company supplying antibodies to in vitro diagnostics worldwide. When Fortron shut down, there was a need for a company to continue to provide high quality materials in a flexible environment. We have expanded on that concept and have become more “partners” than “suppliers” with our customers.
It also gave me the opportunity to run a company the way I wanted it, with a more personal touch with the customers. It gave me the opportunity to give back to the community in taking on interns from NCSU, NCCU and the Vet School. We also give back to the community through volunteer activities and donations.
Q: Where is your HQ and how many employees do you have?
A: We are located in Raleigh, with 13 employees.
Q: What are your company’s core products or services?
A: Our products are affinity purified antibodies used in in vitro diagnostics (human and animal) as well as life science research at universities, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. You can find our antibodies anywhere from pregnancy tests, or a researcher in plant sciences. At CED we launched a new antibody purification resin which will expand our line of affinity resin products.
Q: Who are some recognizable members of your leadership team?
A: Brad Heidinger is our COO and makes sure that our operations can support our business goals. Marshall Franklin is our VP Sales & Marketing, and is responsible for coordinating with Brad to support new and existing business. Dr. Tee Bordelon just joined ImmunoReagents as our Director of Science & Technology and is bringing new technologies into manufacturing and adding to our product list.
Q: What are your differentiators from competitors?
A: Our flexibility and our relationship with our customers is what sets us apart from our competitors.
Q: Does your company develop new technologies or re-apply existing technologies to solve a problem?
A: Both. We will be implementing new technologies on the purification front in-house as well as offering the LigaTrap purification resin for the market. We continue to tweak current technologies to get better products to our customers on a routine basis.
Q: Who are your customers?
A: In vitro diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies; research facilities including universities and corporations. Our products are distributed worldwide.
Q: What problems does your company solve?
A: We provide customized reagents suited for specific purposes, rather than just “off the shelf” products. We work with our customers to define what makes a specific antibody work best for them. We provide cost savings and a continuous supply chain of reagents. We also provide custom labeling for our customers which in turn saves them manpower in addition to lower costs.
Q: Please share any examples of situations where your products or services achieved a positive result for clients.
A: One of our clients was having problems with an RNase assay. The quality of the antibody was no consistent and they had heavy loses on purification, resulting in high production costs. We brought the project in-house, revamped immunization protocols and increased yields by 10x. The end result was a high quality antibody was a reduced cost, preventing backorders and recalls.
Q: What new products or services or services will you be rolling-out in 2016?
A: The LigaTrap technology is a new purification resin that was launched this month. The LigaTrap resin is designed to purify antibodies that cannot be purified using current technology.
Q: What makes your company relevant to the future of your industry?
A: There will always be a need for the personal touch, whether it is in customer service and support, or getting that assay to work reliably every time. It doesn’t hurt that we create a reliable supply chain and can be flexible with our customers’ needs.
Q: Will your company be participating in any upcoming trade shows or other events, or are you being featured in any upcoming industry publications?
A: We always exhibit at the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) in the US and at MEDICA in Germany. We are evaluating other trade shows to see what best fits our customer base, including China and Japan.
Q: Where can people go to find out more information?