PharmEng acquires Rootlink

PharmEng Int'l announced it acquired Rootlink Technic to augment its contract manufacturing and consulting offerings.

Lisa Espenschade
TORONTO—PharmEng International Inc. announced that it acquired Rootlink Technic Inc., whose labora­tory instrumentation servic­es will augment PharmEng's contract manufacturing and consulting offerings to phar­maceutical and biotech com­panies.
 
The merger recognizes PharmEng's lack of drug dis­covery instrumentation ser­vices and completes another step in its vertical integra­tion strategy for establishing a one-stop shop with broad offerings, says CEO Alan Kwong. "It's a tremendous synergy for the two compa­nies. And the size of the com­pany that they have is in the ballpark of what we would like to acquire."
 
Despite Rootlink's small size—three service engi­neers—Rootlink president Joe Cheng says the company serves all the biotech and pharmaceutical companies in southern Ontario. "We pro­vide our customers with all the hardware, maintenance of the systems, support, and validation services," he says. Rootlink covers mass spec­trometry, gas chroma­tography, automated dissolu­tion and other equipment.
 
Rootlink maintains strong expertise in analytical hard­ware repair service, according to founder Gabriel Lam, who, after nearly 20 years with Hewlett-Packard and Agilent, established Rootlink in 2001 to provide more service options to customers. "If they are not getting it all from the vendor, they will go somewhere else to get that particular service," says Lam. Because Rootlink pro­vides consulting services that go beyond manufacturers', Lam believes he actually increases their product demand.
 
The acquisition closed in July, with PharmEng spending cash and shares to purchase Rootlink's assets and intellectual prop­erty, says Kwong. Lam is senior director for a new Laboratory Instrumentation Services divi­sion at PharmEng, and Cheng will work in business development as senior director.
 
Beyond expanding markets for Rootlink and PharmEng, the merg­er brings new opportunities and benefits to Rootlink employees, say Lam and Cheng. It also enables Rootlink's engineers to work more with clients, leaving market­ing, accounting, and other tasks to PharmEng. "Right now we can get them to focus on the business side," says Kwong. "Don't worry about the overhead… It's going to be a stepping stone to exponentially increase revenue and definitely the profit of the laboratory services."
 
Revenues have increased steadi­ly at PharmEng, from $116,000 CDN in 1997, its founding year, to $7.5 million in 2006. Kwong expects to continue seeing annual 50 per­cent growth rates under a business strategy of acquisition and organic growth. PharmEng went public in April 2005, and the Rootlink acquisition is its first.
 
PharmEng aims to serve a spec­trum of customers, from incuba­tor companies to multinationals. PharmEng has been expanding its reach south of the Canadian bor­der, beginning with a new office in North Carolina in late 2005. Three additional offices—Boston, San Francisco, and Philadelphia—will start serving local companies by late 2006. International activity includes acquiring a controlling interest in a Chinese consult­ing company, Beijing BRD Lixin PharmaTech Co. Ltd., and deliv­ering training on biotech and pharma requirements under a collaborative training program for the Taiwanese Centre for Disease Control and Industrial Development Bureau. "It's very prestigious," says Kwong.

Lisa Espenschade

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