OCEANSIDE, Calif.—In a move that is both part of an overall business strategy and a plan to emerge as strong as possible from its recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which it filed in March, SeraCare Life Sciences will consolidate its facilities and streamline operations by moving from California to Massachusetts and occupying a newly purchased manufacturing facility.
By Sept. 1, the company expects to have its headquarters relocated to West Bridgewater, Mass., and its manufacturing moved from Oceanside, Calif., over to a Milford, Mass., plant that was acquired from Celliance earlier this year.
Swapping from the West Coast to the East is intended to consolidate company functions for the business, which manufactures biological products for and provides services to drug discovery, research, diagnostic and therapeutic organizations—including reagents, cell culture products, specialty plasmas, in vitro stabilizers and the SeraCare BioBank, a proprietary database of medical information and associated blood, plasma, DNA and RNA samples.
Eliminating redundancies is another important part of the consolidation, as Celliance and SeraCare competed with each other.
"Both facilities—Milford and Oceanside—were essentially manufacturing the same types of products," says Ron Dilling, vice president, Milford operations for SeraCare. "And with this integration and moving the business into the Milford facility, we'll have a minimum amount of build-out to address any increased capacity needs."
More than that, though, the company rockets itself into the future, says Jeff Livingstone, vice president, business development for SeraCare, describing the Milford plant as a "21st/22nd century facility" and noting that the cGMP-compliant, ISO 9001-certified facility is much more advanced than the manufacturing plant in Oceanside, with higher-quality systems and processes.
"So effectively with the consolidation—and of course there are synergies just from having one main plant instead of two—what we're really doing is increasing the level of quality we can provide to customers and to vendors," Livingstone explains.
SeraCare believes that its technological enhancements in Milford will not only result in better products for drug discovery operations now, but better improvements in those products and perhaps entirely new offerings.
"We have a much more modern CRM [customer relationship management] system in the Celliance facility," Livingstone says. "This not only means we will provide better and faster service, but it also means we can enhance the development of existing and new products by incorporating client feedback directly into the product development cycle, which is essential for our growth strategy going forward."
SeraCare is currently in the process of relocating raw material inventory that resided in Oceanside and some of the manufacturing processes have been relocated as well, Dilling says. The next stage is to complete some manufacturing jobs by the end of June and then move the remainder of the finished products and equipment in July. August will be spent shutting down the manufacturing suite in Oceanside and disposing of any equipment that will not be transferred, and other last-minute details.
Managing the existence of both the Oceanside and Milford facilities isn't SeraCare's only juggling act. It also has to contend with holdings in Maryland.
"For the last two-and-a-half to three years, SeraCare was on an acquisition spree, and some of those companies also had their own acquisition activities going on," Livingstone notes. "So effectively, there are five different businesses that have been in some sort of state of integration with SeraCare for a few years now."
Currently, he says, SeraCare has facilities in Gaithersburg, Md., and Fredericksburg, Md., in addition to the Oceanside, Milford, and West Bridgewater properties. SeraCare recently hired a real estate management consultant firm, Equis, to evaluate its real estate assets, and Livingstone says the firm is very familiar with the life sciences space and thus the types of properties owned by SeraCare.