Relationships matter as biotech company builds upon its growth

Worcester Business Journal Online

Sunday, March 29, 2015

By Amanda Roberge

GARDNER — Sam Massoni chose Gardner as the site for New England Peptide Inc. when he got started in the late 1990s. The city is doing its part to keep the company around as it experiences its latest round of growing pains.

With a 12,500-square-foot addition planned as part of a nearly $2 million expansion at the biotech firm's headquarters at 65 Zub Lane, New England Peptide has arranged a substantial tax break with the city. The incentive, which Mr. Massoni said is the result of relationships he has built since settling in Central Massachusetts, allows for $74,214 worth of tax savings over a 20-year tax increment financing deal. 

The company, which operates in a 10,000-square-foot building in Summit Industrial Park, broke ground on the expansion last fall and is "about 80 percent done with the build," said Mr. Massoni, the company's chief executive officer. He added that he will apply for occupancy on May 1. The company hired D.R. Poulin Construction Co. Inc. of Fitchburg to build the addition. 

"Space-wise, we are a bit overextended right now," he said, adding that the company grew 25 percent last year. The construction project will also establish the infrastructure for the second phase of the project, expected to take place in the next four to five years, that will add another 12,000 square feet of space. 

The project is being funded with the loan assistance of Rollstone Bank. Michael Olson, the bank's chief lending officer and executive vice president, said the bank is always pleased to enter into business partnerships with companies such as New England Peptide. 

"Lending money to closely held companies in Worcester County to allow for expansion and growth is what community banking is all about," Mr. Olson said. 

Peptides — proteins consisting of two or more amino acids linked in a chain — are the building blocks of scientific research. Studying cancer-related peptide reagents, for example, gives scientists the potential to identify breakthroughs in cancer diagnostics and to design more individualized therapies for cancer patients. 

Some of New England Peptide's major customers are Pfizer, Bayer and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 

The company's growth, Mr. Massoni said, is a result of scientists in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries looking for high-quality materials that lend themselves to reproducible research data — something that has been compromised in recent years due to cheap, low-quality, unregulated reagents, he said. 

With 43 employees, New England Peptide plans to increase its workforce by three to five people each year over the next five years. Given that the vast majority of his workforce resides within a 20-mile radius of Gardner, Mr. Massoni said, it's safe to assume that new hires will also be drawn from the region. 

"This business could be anywhere," Mr. Massoni said of his company. But having grown up in Leominster, attended college in Boston and settled in Westminster, he said, he drew a circle on the map around his house to determine where to establish his business, which he runs with his wife and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Massoni. "But I care about this area and I want to be here for a very long time." 

The increase in space — which is designed, said Mr. Massoni, in anticipation of what the company's needs will be many years down the road — will allow for more research and production space and will enable one of the faster turnaround times in the industry for peptides. 

"As a business, you should always be engaged with local government agencies and be mindful of developing those relationships," he said. "The people I have worked with in Gardner have been very helpful and I have always seen us as working well together." 

Testimonials

"Thanks for the rapid response and great service. We got the peptides today. Very clean, very nice."
Alex B. PhD - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute