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- 06/09/2017

5 minutes interview with: Jim Keay – Vertellus

Pharma Horizon

Five minutes at Informex with

Dr Jim Keay, business director – speciality chemicals at Vertellus

PH: Vertellus went into and out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. Is the Vertellus we see here substantially different to the one from before?

Keay: Respecting the confidentiality of terms governing Vertellus’ business agreements, I can share with you that in 2017 Vertellus continues to focus on supplying the needs of customers operating in markets around the globe.  As we are midway through Q2 2017, Vertellus’ goal is to ensure that we are not only supporting our normal business operations, but also investing in the future to ensure we remain a valued supplier to customers.

PH: So what is the way forward?

Keay: Vertellus continues to pursue strategic opportunities for growth. Contract manufacturing of chemicals for customers in the life science and agro sectors is one area where we are expanding our efforts. The acquisition of Pentagon Chemical in the United Kingdom a few years ago provides infrastructure for growth in these sectors. Vertellus recently optimized and expanded capacity for its Vitride® reducing agent, a liquid metal hydride reagent, favored for its stability, and ease of use. And on the personal care front, as consumers and regulators around the globe express increased interest in the ingredients used in personal care formulations, Vertellus developed FreshstatTM a CPC-based (INCI: Cetylpyridinium Chloride) preservative. Since its launch, Freshstat has been well received as a safe, effective preservative that does not persist in the environment. Last year, we increased capacity at our DEET facility in North Carolina to meet a global surge in demand for DEET. These examples are just some of the ways Vertellus aims to deliver value that meets customers’ evolving needs.   

PH: How has business been in custom manufacturing this year?

Keay: We have been putting a lot of resources behind contract manufacturing and having positive conversations with customers as well as prospects at global trade shows. Ultimately, business in the agro-space is always driven by demand for the big grains. As many businesses’ working capital and inventories are at low levels, any significant weather or pest event could influence commodity prices.  

PH: What’s your take on the new-look Informex?

Keay: As an exhibitor, I’m very pleased to see that activity and attendance at this year’s show seems higher.  

PH: What else do you see going on out there?

Keay: In some of the commodities businesses, we have seen values going up and that is partly because of more environmental compliance, which we are seeing in China and we hope that’s sustainable. We also see a lot more innovation in the life sciences, a lot more outsourcing and a lot more people needing to play their professional corner, whether it’s technology, service or something else. Both the pharma and the ag guys are more prepared to buy in the innovation they need than they have been before. They are spending more on research and discovery and then more on marketing and managing their IP, everything else in between is in a bit of flux, which gives opportunities to companies like us. The CDMO that is happening in pharma, as we see as we go through our planning, seems more likely to emerge in other life science spaces too.