Rapid growth drives Nova-Tech expansion
Q: Gloria, please give us a little history about your company.
A: I incorporated Nova-Tech in 1988. Initially, we manufactured animal serums which are used as a nutritional element for in-vitro cell growth. In 2004, along with my business partner, Teresa Grabowski, we began manufacturing large-volume parenterals. This helped us eliminate serum seasonal cycles and reduced inventory turn times. In 2011, Nova-Tech moved into an all new aseptic fill facility, a state-of-the-art plant that doubled manufacturing capacity.
Q: What are your major markets?
A: Nova-Tech is the leading U.S. supplier of CGMP aseptically manufactured large-volume parenterals for the veterinary market. We provide 22 fluid products in fill sizes of 100, 250, 500, and 1,000 mL, in either high-density polyethylene or glass. Our customers are distributors, buying groups and drug sponsors in U.S. animal health market.
Q: You’re expanding again. Is this about growth?
A: To meet increasing demand, in 2014 we added to our temperature-controlled warehouse. By this fall of 2017, we will add a third and fourth line for aseptically filling of bags and product/process development. We will add 10 to 13 new jobs and bring our facility to 106,000 sq. ft. The new area will include regulatory office space, training rooms plus the two new production lines.
Q: How will new facilities help you meet your company’s biggest challenges?
A: We are committed to be the leading U.S. provider in our market. We will continue to invest in staff, facilities and equipment to provide for our customers’ needs.
Q: How do current economic conditions affect your business?
A: The challenge is development and retention of workforce. An unemployment rate of +/- 3% is not a positive for business growth. It is the No. 1 topic of discussion within the business sector, along with increasing costs of employee benefits. This company will continue to hire highly skilled staff and we will pay for skill and quality of work. The challenge is, will there be employees to staff our growth?
Q: What can we do to overcome these challenges?
A: Nebraska will need to target cluster development that is specifically focused on innovation industries. This would include information technology, bio sciences, financial services, etc. We need to invest in local entrepreneurship in rural areas. And promote internship and placement programs in high skill/high wage jobs. We also must be prepared to invest long term, before effects are visible. We need to grow the population and new businesses that offer high-skill/high-wage careers. To do that, our state tax programs must attract these industries.
Q: How can government address workforce shortages?
A: We should support vocational opportunities for students – apprenticeships, job shadowing and internships. Also, a growing in-migration continues to increase our diversity. About 30% of the workforce fits into this sector. Assimilating these people into our communities has costs and benefits. Funding programs are needed to optimize this workforce asset.
Q: What skills are most in need?
A: That’s a very broad subject. What is needed today? What is needed in 10 years, 20 years? What skills are needed if we create incentives and locate more high skill/high wage businesses in our community, in our state?
Q: Does the workforce issue slow down your capital plans or market leadership goals?
A: No, you don’t slow down progress. You eat an elephant one bite at a time. Growth is ongoing. We’re always identifying, promoting and training high achievers who fuel growth. With each planned and executed addition, internal training and external recruitment efforts are stepped up. When applicable, robotics are engineered in the production process.
Q: What can our state do better to be leaders in bio sciences?
A: Midwesterners are resourceful, tireless, dedicated, committed, loyal, inventive, all rooted in common sense and a history of overcoming adversity. Some may not credit us as “leading edge.” This is a perception problem we Nebraskans need to fix. You can count on us to start, but more importantly, to finish.
We have assets we can build upon. Our companies are feeding, fueling and healing the world. The University of Nebraska is a global “rising star” in natural sciences. NU is No. 9 in the U.S., No. 90 among 8,000 worldwide institutions. We can convert these achievements into more economic opportunities.
Funding for any technical startup is a challenge. It’s the nature of the beast. Economic programs that work with communities and lending institutions to mitigate the risk are “deal makers” for technically based, entrepreneurial startups. Nova-Tech is here today because of economic development programs.
Q: How can Bio Nebraska members effect change?
A: Bio Nebraska is a voice for a big sector of our economy. The continued presence at the legislative level has and will influence lawmakers. We need to continue to spotlight our industries, to raise public awareness. We need to sharpen up public incentive programs, based on our experiences with Nebraska Advantage.
Our schools, towns, community colleges and universities continue to address the shortage of skilled workers. Bio Nebraska can identify and list jobs, education and skill sets needed today and in the future.
We need more conversations about the mass of our population that delivers products that make our lives what they are today. It is kind of like a football mindset. Everyone wants to talk about the quarterback. But few appreciate others on the team who deliver.
Q: What has been the most rewarding thing you have done as an entrepreneur?
A: The most rewarding thing I have done is found a technically based company, located in rural Nebraska, which provides an environment to encourage and reward all employees to develop the knowledge and skills that advance them personally and professionally.
And I do so like working on solutions.