The Gardner News
July 27, 2007
By Ernie King - News Staff Writer
GARDNER — New England Peptide, the city’s only biotech industry has been in the city for a year and now they are planning on expanding their business. However, there has not been a final decision on where the expansion will occur. Members of the Gardner Redevelopment Authority along with City Council President Neil Janssens and Kristin Wood, the district economic development director for 1st District, U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Amherst, were informed of the company’s plans during a recent tour of the biotech facility located in the Summit Industrial Park.
The company’s two top executives, CEO Dave Robinson and COO Ben Robinson, said they would like the expansion to take place in Gardner, but told the officials on the tour they were looking at a few existing facilities in the Worcester area and a number in the Boston area.
“If you look at the pipeline of work that is being done with peptides, our focus has always been on preclinical,” Mr. Robinson said. “But, we have some significant plans in the works right now to target the rest of that market so that we become a single source for peptides, regardless of where that work is being done.
“The thought being that our customers can come to us for peptides whether it’s in drug discovery, clinical trials or whether it’s getting that drug into the hands of end users and patients around the world. That’s really the vision we have for our business.”
Sam and Jen Massoni founded the company in 1998, according to Mr. Robinson. The Robinson brothers purchased the company and moved to Gardner in April 2006 when their new facility in the Summit Industrial Park was completed. Since its establishment, the 10-year-old company’s business has been growing.
“In the beginning, we established really meaningful partnerships with some of the biggest and most reputable biotech pharmaceutical companies around the world,” he said. “Since that time, we have been selling our products to over 30 countries and over 1,000 customers. It’s a really nice global footprint for a small Gardner company.”
The company CEO said peptides are small proteins used in the manufacturing of other drugs, as well as creams and cosmetics.
“Our historical focus has always been in the research end of the market so it’s important to look at the whole peptide market,” he said. “There is a research market and there is a clinical or pharmaceutical market for peptides that are for use in humans.”
Mr. Robinson said his brother was going to inspect another possible site for the company’s expansion when the meeting with the GRA was finished.
“You hear this all of the time in Massachusetts about this sort of biotech research thing, but when it moves over to production, Massachusetts loses a lot of the jobs and a lot of the production,” City Planner and GRA member Rob Hubbard said. “Why is that? If you guys move from where you are now in research into commercial, is that the route that you are going to take?”
The company’s CEO said they wanted to keep production in Gardner, but they needed a specialized facility with a “clean room” and lab space. He said the company has not been able to find a place in the city that met those needs. As a result, the search for a building was still ongoing.
“We are working hard at keeping things here, but there are challenges,” he said. “We would love to start a dialogue about keeping things here in Gardner.”
City Councilor and GRA member Ronald Cormier asked if the brothers thought it would be feasible to build a new facility in the city. Mr. Robinson said it would, but the company was concerned about the time it would take to build a new plant.
“As we move into this market, we want to focus on getting into that market soon,” he said. “We prefer at least in the short term to lease a facility. Before we build one, we are looking for a shell of a building ... so we can focus on the inside of the building.”
Mr. Hubbard said if the company was interested in leasing a building, the GRA would be willing to construct a building and lease it to them. The Robinsons said they would remain in contact with the GRA and keep them apprised of any pending move.
Appeared on Page 1 on 7/27/2007 (Vol. 205 No. 176)