In June, Frazier Healthcare acquired Catalent’s U.S. commercial packaging operations and relaunched it under the PCI Packaging Services brand name. Frazier brought former PCI president Bill Mitchell back to run the business. We talked with Bill about the challenges of a relaunch, how the business has changed since his first stint, and where he sees PCI’s biggest growth opportunities. —GYR
Contract Pharma: What’s your history with PCI, and what brought you back to the company with this re-launch?
Bill Mitchell: I started with PCI back in 1997 when it was owned by Cardinal Healthcare. I was here through 2006, and served as president of PCI Packaging Services since 2002. There were a lot of changes around that time.
Now I have an opportunity to come back. When Frazier Healthcare bought the business, they contacted me. I always enjoyed the contract packaging business and I’m pleased to be back with PCI!
CP: What were you up to from 2006 until you got the call from Frazier?
BM: I was the chief executive officer for a division of the Clondalkin Group. It’s a Europe-based company, and I headed up the Clondalkin Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Packaging Group that’s based in the U.S. and focused on the carton, label and insert businesses here.
Effectively, I spent more than four years building that company. We did a lot of acquisitions and integrations during that period. During that time, we acquired Pharmagraphics, Keller Crescent, Lehigh Press, and Catalent’s printed components group. We rolled those up into the larger company.
CP: What advantages does your history with PCI give you, being able to come back to the firm?
BM: I was here during a period of significant growth for PCI, both organic and from acquisitions. The business was considerably larger back then. I, and the team I brought with me, lived through a time of pretty rapid expansion and growth. We certainly intend to do that with the business going forward. We know what the business, the facilities and the people are capable of, and we intend to return to that growth phase.
CP: How has the contract pharmaceutical packaging business changed since you left in 2006?
BM: The obvious change has been the wave of mergers and acquisitions among the customer base. It’s a different landscape in terms of who’s left. The other big change is that regulatory and quality demands are a lot higher than they’ve ever been. Of course, dealing with patent expirations of blockbusters has altered the landscape significantly. Those are the three biggest changes.
CP: Speaking of quality issues: do you think the problems at the likes of J&J and Novartis create opportunities for a company like PCI?
BM: I think they do. I think our focus on packaging and our tremendous regulatory and quality history over the past 20 years will create opportunities. Quality will be our overwhelming focus in this business. It’s my belief that quality is what’s going to win. A quality service and product is the most important thing to bring to the table.
CP: How much is Frazier looking to invest in PCI?
BM: I can’t share any details. Frazier Healthcare is a healthcare-focused private equity venture growth fund. They’ve been in this business for 20 years and have good experience in healthcare. They’ve chosen the packaging segment and PCI specifically to be a platform for growth.
We’re not limiting our growth simply to contract packaging. We’re going to look at other areas and other geographies. It wouldn’t be wrong to assume that we’re trying to rebuild something we had achieved earlier: an international presence and a wider scope of business than contract packaging.
CP: Can you reveal some of those expansion plans, in terms of particular regions or dosage forms?
BM: It’s still a little early for that. We want to get our feet on the ground and bring the Philadelphia and Woodstock sites settled in. I’d say within a year you’ll see us making some moves. There’s a strong appetite for growth beyond the organic level; there’ll definitely be acquisitions.
CP: What other strategies do you have going forward?
BM: Another of the changes that oc-curred in the last few years is that order sizes are smaller. There are more SKUs at lower volumes. I think we’ll be able to bring the market a keen focus on flexibility and the ability to competitively produce small quantity orders at a cost effective level.
In addition, we’ll be focused on biotechnology. We’ve got a very large cold storage / cold chain capability at the Red Lion site, and that’ll be a key area for us.
CP: What do you think has the strongest growth potential?
BM: In terms of percentage market growth, biotech is certainly growing faster than the other segments of the industry. In terms of absolute numbers, there is still plenty of opportunity in large pharma and emerging pharma, on the bottling and blister side.
CP: How difficult is it to resurrect a brand, after the years it spent as part of another company?
BM: At this point, I’m very encouraged. It’s going to be tough, but we believe it can be done. That’s one of the reasons that we chose to bring back the PCI brand, rather than coming back with a different name. I feel there’s still quite a bit of brand equity in the marketplace. I talked to past customers and it reflected that belief. In the first few weeks since we went public with the new PCI, we’ve had nothing but positive feedback from customers who think it was a great idea.
As a senior executive in several pharmaceutical packaging companies, Bill Mitchell has nearly 35 years of experience and a proven track record in pharmaceutical contract packaging, manufacturing and services. He has served most recently as the chief executive officer of Clondalkin Group Pharma and Healthcare, an operating company within the Clon-dalkin Group where he led the integration of several acquired companies into a single operating company and was accountable for the strategic direction and operational execution across nine facilities. For a decade prior to his tenure at Clondalkin, Mr. Mitchell was the president of several packaging divisions within Cardinal Health, where he had global responsibilities for the $500 million group of contract packaging and manufacturing businesses and 3,200 employees. He received his education at the University of Delaware.