26 March 2001 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]By Clay Boswell
A burgeoning biotech industry has drawn Spectrum Laboratory Products, the supplier of lab-scale and semi-bulk chemicals, to the Pacific Northwest, where it plans to construct a new warehouse in Seattle, Wash.
The move will be the latest in a series of expansions and upgrades driven by extraordinary growth, says Paul Burg, founder and chairman of the Gardena, Calif.-based supplier. January was the thirty-year-old company's best month ever, he notes, and March should be even more impressive. Revenue increases for the year should top 15 or 20 percent.
In 1999, Spectrum tripled the size of its manufacturing and warehouse facility in New Brunswick, N.J., from 20,000 to 78,000 square feet at a cost of $6 million. Spectrum also tripled the size of its sales office in Tucson, Ariz. A move into the Midwest had been in the cards as well until a long-term contract with a major customer made the Pacific Northwest a sensible option.
Two weeks ago, Spectrum expanded its presence on the Internet, launching a new website (www.spectrumchemical.com) that allows online ordering from its entire catalog of over 11,000 products, as well as access to material safety data sheets and certificates of analysis. Order status will be the next addition, eventually followed by integration into customer ERP systems.
Spectrum actually offers three different catalogs, each notable for its chemical diversity and variety of grades, such as ACS, USP, NF and FCC. The newest edition of the lab products catalog, a 2,500 page hardcover published in January, is the largest ever. The pharmacy products catalog offers drug compounding chemicals, many available nowhere else. But the semi-bulk catalog is Spectrum's greatest strength. "We have the broadest line in the semi-bulk area," says Randy Burg, president and CEO, noting that the selection of over 1,000 different fine chemicals is more than double the combined offerings of other semi-bulk suppliers.
A portion of Spectrum's products is produced in the company's Gardena facility, but most are sourced around the world. They are all immediately available, however. For lab quantities and semi-bulk, "availability is essential," observes Mr. Burg. "If you don't have it, you don't sell it: it's as simple as that. Customers want it now."
Customers also want to consolidate their ordering, he points out, which is why Spectrum now offers a complete line of laboratory equipment and supplies from a host of vendors, including recent addition Corning Inc.
Spectrum's catalog has the breadth of a much larger supplier, but the company's own medium size allows it to maximize customer service, Paul Burg adds. "We are an unusual company."
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