Quality Chemical Laboratories will grow its sister company in an expansion of its Wilmington-based facility, said Yousry Sayed, president and CEO of the pharma firm, on Wednesday.
Quality Chemical plans to break ground on its 90,000-square-foot addition to its main building at 3220 Corporate Drive, in the Northchase Industrial Park this spring, company officials said.
The expansion will double the company's footprint in the northern New Hanover County industrial park. Quality Chemical currently has an existing 90,000 square feet of space within six buildings there.
In addition, Sayed said plans are to bring into the addition (right
) its sister company, Pyramid Pharmaceutical Co. LLC, which started essentially as a "virtual company" several years ago, Sayed said.
“In the new building, we’re going to do manufacturing, new products, new technologies and tie in Pyramid Pharmaceutical to Quality Chemical Laboratories,” Sayed said.
“We established the company, but we didn’t have any products. Now we have to build up the product pipeline and the technologies,” Sayed said of Pyramid Pharmaceutical. “You have to start somewhere and establish an entity. And once we got Quality Chemical Laboratories to develop and build up some funding and all that, then we could use that to help in getting Pyramid Pharmaceutical to do the same thing, and help develop new products and get something to the market.”
What makes Pyramid Pharmaceutical different from Quality Chemical is that the growing sister company will develop products, such as generic products and new technologies for drug delivery.
Some work has started, including initial work on certain drugs over the past 10 to 15 years, he said, adding, “Drug development takes a long time."
“In the meantime, we’re developing some foundation, some work, so that once the building is ready, the labs are ready and the manufacturing is ready, then we could then ease the transition,” Sayed said.
The company's building expansion and its ongoing work in the Wilmington area were the highlight of an industry visit with N.C. Department of Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland, who along with state and local leaders took a tour of Quality Chemical on Wednesday.
The visit was part of Wilmington City Council’s ongoing Innovative Business tours, which included Mayor Bill Saffo and council members, who hosted Copeland and local legislators on a visit to local manufacturers, according to the city.
The visit was an opportunity to "learn more about local manufacturing businesses and what actions local and state government can do to help facilitate their future growth in the community," according to a notice from the city.
Workforce development and the need for more professionals in the industry were among topics shared between Sayed and Copeland (pictured with Sayed, left, and Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover
) during the industry visit.
"We need people now for existing labs," Sayed said.
The company is looking to fill between 50 to 100 positions this year, but finding the right talent is a challenge. When the new building is up and running, the company will need an additional 50 to 100, Sayed said.
The firm currently has more than 200 employees, officials said.
“That’s our biggest challenge is getting the qualified people, because it’s a highly technical industry," Sayed said. "And even if you have a new graduate, it takes them several months, several years even, to really be able to do a lot of the testing, a lot of the manufacturing.”
Copeland was also scheduled Wednesday to visit The Queensboro Shirt Co. at 1400 Marstellar St.
Wilmington is “doing so many correct things here for economic development. I like to see it up close,” said Copeland, adding that he makes industry visits to Southeastern North Carolina to see it up close at least once a year.
“Area’s like Wilmington have fintech and life sciences in a robust way that don’t necessarily get the publicity perhaps of the Research Triangle Park and the Charlotte Metropolitan Area. And I’m here to promote that globally,” Copeland said.
The commerce secretary also expressed an interest in helping grow the region’s film industry, which will kick off this year's activity with two pilots
“We’re working very hard, and diligently," Copeland said, "to try to bring it back."