Good chemistry

A Missouri entrepreneur boils the lab business down to a science.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)

m_edwards_thanedar.03.jpg
Shri Thanedar, CEO of Chemir
Chemir
Headquarters: Maryland Heights, Mo.
2003 revenue: $6.3 million
2008 revenue: $60 million

(Fortune Small Business) -- Shri Thanedar's job is to help companies beat the competition. His secret? Chemistry.

Take Devro, a Columbia, S.C.-based sausage-casing manufacturer that was losing business to a rival with a shinier product. Devro called on Thanedar, whose firm, Chemir, does chemical analysis and manufacturing.

After paying Chemir $7,000 to reverse-engineer the competitor's product, Devro developed a comparably shiny casing with a longer shelf life. "We couldn't do that ourselves," says Devro engineer Marco Hobi. "Chemir has all the state-of-the-art tools."

It wasn't always that way. Thanedar, 54, who emigrated from India in 1979 to get a Ph.D. in polymer chemistry, bought the company in 1991 for $75,000. Back then the three-person outfit solved manufacturers' problems, figuring out why blue pills were getting yellow spots or why contact lens solution caused eye irritation.

In 2003 Thanedar began shifting his services to meet a growing demand: helping analyze and develop new drugs. His strategy included the acquisition of seven companies, which boosted Chemir's annual revenues from $6.3 million to $60 million.

Last year, with the recession looming, Chemir started pulling away from small biotech firms, which were short on credit, and wooing large pharmaceutical and chemical companies, which had fewer outsourcing needs but more cash. Today 60% of its business comes from conglomerates such as Merck, Monsanto and Pfizer. Thanedar expects his revenue to hold steady in this down year.

"We saw what could be done, and we took steps," he explains. "We didn't just wait for the market and the economy to turn around."  To top of page

To write a note to the editor about this article, click here.




QMy dream is to launch my own business someday. Now that it's time to choose a major, I'm debating if I should major in entrepreneurial studies or major in engineering to acquire a set of skills first. Is majoring in entrepreneurship a good choice? More
Get Answer
- Spate, Orange, Calif.

More Galleries
These 10 food trends could dominate 2015 So long, kale. Here's what's expected to shake up the food industry next year. More
Beyond Russia: Geopolitical hot spots in 2015 Investors beware: These 5 global crises are likely to rattle the stock market and world economy. More
These 20 antique guns could fetch big bucks Morphy Auctions in Pennsylvania is putting nearly 1,000 old guns on the block. Here are just a few. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.