2 min read February 2021 —West Pharmaceutical Services Inc. is a leading provider of innovative, high-quality injectable solutions and services. In an interview with Invest:, President and CEO Eric Green shares his insights regarding how the company and industry have been impacted by COVID, as well as what makes Philadelphia a great location for the company’s headquarters.
Why is Philadelphia an ideal location for your headquarters?
West has been around for almost 100 years. Its roots were established here in Philadelphia by Herman O. West, who attended and later taught at the University of Pennsylvania. The company was initially formed in Upper Darby, Pa, and then moved the headquarters to Philadelphia, and finally to the Chester County area.
Our manufacturing sites are dispersed around the world but our global headquarters and lab facilities are located in Exton.
This is a very attractive location for a business. The area has phenomenal schools, both for K-12 as well as world-class colleges and universities. There is a tremendous amount of research grants and funds going into the local area for research and development, which attracts students, principal investigators and researchers. It has been a great area to attract and retain talent into our organization.
West supports the vast majority of the injectable drug companies across the globe and the Philadelphia area is rich with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as well as academic research and hospitals. Our headquarters location is ideal as we are co-located with many of our customers in the healthcare sector.
What shifts in demand have resulted from the pandemic?
The core business has continued to do quite well. The demand that has been put on us to respond to the vaccines and various therapeutics required to combat COVID has been significant. We increased our capital investments in our sites, and we’ve added close to 1,000 team members over the last 12 months, both full-time and temporary jobs. Several of our 25 manufacturing plants, located around the world, have been operating 24/7. Concerning our core business, we expect demand for injectable medicines will continue to rise due to an aging population and increasing chronic disease rates.
How important is purpose in creating high-quality products?
We are incredibly proud to play such a vital role in making a difference to the millions of patients around the world. Our team produces about 40 billion components a year at our facilities. When you ask our team members in our manufacturing operations, “How do we ensure the highest level of quality that is needed for the products we provide?” they always say, “Every one of these components has a patient’s name on it.” Purpose is pronounced and known in the hallways of West. Purpose is enabling our ability to support patient health and fuel a brighter future with product innovations. For seven out of 10 injectable medicines that are used on any given day, we’re a part of that. With that comes a tremendous amount of responsibility but also significant pride.
How has the supply chain been affected by the pandemic?
The supply chain has been a challenge, particularly with transportation. For example, air freight is a common mode of transportation we use to deliver our products to customers. Because that industry has slowed down, we’ve had to rely more on cargo transportation. Fortunately, we have great relationships with some of the largest cargo transportation companies in the world. We’re able to get onto the priority list because of the high necessity of our products produced for COVID and because of the great relationships we’ve established in those channels. It has been more challenging because the availability of moving materials has been more constrained due to the environment we’re operating in today but we’ve managed through it. We were prepared in many areas of our business for disruptions in the supply chain with primary, secondary and tertiary supply chain mechanisms that we could rely on if needed.
What digital tools do your customers use most?
Our customers have access to two portals on our website. One is the e-commerce portal. New and existing customers are able to conveniently place an order, it’s logged into the system and then it gets delivered. The other portal concerns scientific and technical content. We’re the scientific destination of choice when it comes to packaging molecules and delivering those solutions to our customers and ultimately the patients we jointly serve. We have tremendous scientific data that supports our customers’ decisions. Having that scientific and technical data available consistently has been very beneficial during a time when there is more reliance on digital platforms than face-to-face interactions.
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