Quality Chemical Laboratories is not its owner’s second career. It’s his third.
Yousry Sayed, after having taught chemistry at University of North Carolina Wilmington and then consulting with chemical and pharma companies, decided to test a hypothesis by starting his own company.
Sayed believed that he could do good science and fill an industry need while, creating jobs for local people.
“This is a very rich area with its industrial base, and it’s a nice place to live in,” he said. “It’s nice to be in a hub for pharmaceutical manufacturing and analytical work. People need medications, regardless of whether the economy is up or down.”
Sayed started his enterprise in 1998 with three employees and no committed clients. Quality Chemical Laboratories (QCL) offered testing and analysis of raw materials and drug compounds for pharmaceutical applications. Today, QCL occupies more than 47,000 square feet of space in five buildings in the Northchase area of New Hanover County and employs 128 people. Its laboratories are certified by the Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration.
Over the past 16 years, QCL has expanded both its services and its customer base. Leading a tour of the company’s newest building, a 22,000-square-foot headquarters and lab facility, facility engineer Brian Dineen said that QCL still conducts raw materials testing but now offers drug product testing and drug stability storage and testing. It also offers testing and synthesis of impurities, process development and comprehensive microbiology services. And there is room for growth on an additional 16 acres QCL owns.
“We want to be a one-stop shop for our clients,” Sayed said.
In QCL’s early years, the owner and his team had to prove the company’s capabilities and develop the facilities to handle potential work.
Sayed said, however, that QCL has never had an issue with getting financing.
“Banks will lend money to people with a good track record and who will repay the loan,” he said.
Dineen described the growth of QCL’s client base as “phenomenal.” QCL now has about 100 clients, ranging from top pharma firms to very small endeavors.
“A lot of this industry is based on relationships that develop from good quality work. We operate by a simple rule: Give the client something more than they expect, and the business will come,” Sayed said.
The biggest challenge for QCL is staffing, Sayed said, because the company is growing so fast. It hires locally whenever possible; a major source of talent for QCL is UNCW graduates with science degrees. Once it hires a person, the company invests heavily in training.
The investment in people has paid dividends, Dineen said, because QCL’s retention rate is high.
“A company’s best assets are their employees,” Sayed said. We’re looking for leaders because there are always other opportunities for us.”