In an exclusive Q&A Mark Rohlfing, Almac’s director of Quality, updates Outsourcing-pharma on the firm’s new North American HQ, growth plans and US recruitment drive.
Earlier this month you took possession of your new North American HQ– how far along is the project and what work still needs to be done?
The overall build project is essentially complete with only a few items remaining which will facilitate the transfer of our operations. Such items include final furniture delivery, network activation, and the completion of our facility qualification efforts.
Almac is now focusing on the relocation of its Audubon and Yardley, Pennsylvania operations to the new Headquarters. This, of course, requires careful consideration of our customer’s needs so that all of their supply needs continue to be met. We are currently on schedule to relocate our Clinical Technologies business in October 2010 followed by our Clinical Services business during November and December 2010.
How will having the new HQ impact on Almac’s business in North America and what new opportunities do you hope will arise?
We previously recognized that our current Pennsylvania facilities would not fully facilitate continued growth within Almac and the industry as a whole.
Our founder, Sir Allen McClay also recognized the unique benefits of combining our clinical supply and technology services within one operation. As a result, we designed and built the North American Headquarters as a state-of-the-art facility custom-designed for the clinical supply business.
The facility will house your clinical services and technology businesses– what benefits will having the two units in the same building provide?
Bringing together the Clinical Services and Clinical Technologies groups strengthens our core Almac values - customer service and people.
Project management staff will be better positioned to manage joint studies in person, thereby enhancing our integrated service offering. The North American Headquarters facilitates joint training, communication, and team building within Almac and with our customers
You are also basing your clinical sciences unit at the the facility - which is the first time you have offered this service in the US - what were the motivations for introducing it at this time?
Almac Sciences has provided API synthesis and development services out of our global headquarters in Northern Ireland since the early 1990’s. These include analytical services both for our clients and to support our clinical divisions.The construction of our NAHQ has provided us an opportunity to provide those analytical services here in the US.
The demand for these services from our clinical supply clients has always been present and now Almac has the resources of state-of-the-art laboratories and scientists to support that demand in the US.
From a logistical standpoint, how will placed is the new HQ to serve an increasingly globalized clinical trials sector?
The NAHQ will further strengthen our already strong ability to meet the needs of our clients in supporting their global clinical trial efforts. Almac achieves this by combining its considerable clinical supply capacity at its production facilities in Europe and the US with an expansive global depot network.
The Souderton site nearly doubles the current room temperature storage and production capacity of the Audubon site while increasing cold storage capacity by four to five times.The growth in cold storage capacity was of particular importance in light of the continued expansion in biopharmaceutical discovery and development within the industry.
Finally, you previously outlined an “aggressive” hiring policy – how is this progressing and what types of skills are you looking for?
Almac has hired over 170 professionals within the past twelve months, bringing its current US workforce to over 1000 – with 800 employees based in the Greater Philadelphia region.The company is actively recruiting to fill 70 open positions.
The company is recruiting for a number of jobs, primarily in project management, production, distribution, software development and IT.The positions range from entry level to highly-skilled, technical openings.