we were manufacturing. Some customers were local, and
SHOW ME THE MONEY – AND THE EQUIPMENT
some were existing customers – that had development proj-
ects that they needed help with. But clearly business devel-
opment was not out looking for customers for the pilot plant
because the $2M mandate from corporate was in effect.”
“So I and another engineer said this was crazy. When
you’re not making a lot money, as we were, and someone
wants to pay you a whole lot more, you feel like you’ve hit
the lottery. So we decided to get some equipment, put it in
a building and start our own company specializing in that
While the business idea was sound, in practice it was
much more difficult with the primary culprit being they
didn’t have any money.
For the next two years Price and his partner accumulated
equipment from any source available, including perfectly
serviceable equipment from their current employer that,
instead of being cleaned and readied for the next project,
was just thrown away – especially when executives from the
parent company were visiting.
They also found a facility, an abandoned processing facility in nearby Leominster, Massachusetts that had a small
utility room and a mezzanine that was ideal for hanging
Price and his partners spent the next two years - nights
and weekends – gutting and outfitting the building.
Eventually they had six reactors, a small tray dryer and a
centrifuge, they also got the boilers working – found a compressor and got it up and running.
“We had a functioning facility,” says Price, “it wasn’t
pretty – but for the price it was working.”
“Then my partner at the time and I said since we built it
we had to quit our jobs and run it like a business. He would
do the manufacturing and I would do the business develop-
ment, which was a little ironic because in my past I did just
the opposite and was thrust into it.”
This all happened in 1998 and was the official start of
manufacturing for PCI.
“We were an attack pilot plant,“ says Price. “If someone
GROWTH AND CHANGE
needed 5 to 500 kilos of some intermediate that didn’t need
a lot of sophisticated chemistry we could crank it out in that
little building and get it done.”
“We could make things for half what anyone else was mak-
ing, and still make twice as much money. That was the good
news, the bad news was the plant was built out of junk and we
had to reinvest the profits. We also needed people and had to
expand to hire chemists and analytical people to help.”
From 1998 to 2001 PCI grew at a steady rate. But as Price re-
calls – it was about that time that the business began to change.
“In 2001 things started to slip, projects dried up. Big pharma
changed the way they outsourced – China and India were the
rage. Quality didn’t mat-
ter, speed didn’t matter as
much - it was a mandate
to go to China – that was
a problem for us.”
It was around this
time that Price discovered the growing biotech business in Boston
and just needed to
figure out a way to leverage it. It turns out he
was about ten years too
early – the companies
developing biotech products at the time didn’t
need his company’s services – but, of course,
that would change later.
So Price still needed
to find a way to leverage
PCI’s capabilities and
that came through generic actives. But with
this new business track
there came the need to
FDA approvals – which
of course they did – and
went on develop three new products from 2001 to 2004.
“For the first time we had products that we would be
manufacturing on an annual basis,” says Price. “Rather than
going from contract to contract, we could manufacture this
By March of 2005 the company had grown large enough
that it was becoming increasingly clear that their current facility was inadequate, and the search for a new facility began.
A SETBACK AND A STEP FORWARD
As Price began looking for a new facility for his company,
the unthinkable happened – a fire shut down their plant.
As luck would have it Price found a facility that was for
sale that had plenty of capacity – but the cost was out of
The owners of the plant were eager to sell as they had
invested a lot of money into the facility but never saw a re-
turn. Price negotiated a deal using the financial settlement
from the fire as a down payment. Two years later, PCI took a
loan on the facility and bought out the original owners.
From 2006 through 2008 the company grew its capacity
from 800 gallons to 18,000 gallons. But with that increase
came the inevitable growing pains as the company had to
transfer APIs to the new facility, and since the facility wasn’t
FDA approved they had to trigger an FDA inspection.
PCI's filtration/drying capabilities include 3 Hastelloy PFNs, 2
stainless centrifuges, 1 rotary glass lined dryer and 5 shelf dryers.