Lee biopharmaceutical company reaches staff of 100
LEE — Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing recently achieved a new milestone of 100 employees.
Based here, the biopharmaceutical firm was established in 2014 with a focus on contract manufacturing of sterile drugs in pre-clinical and clinical phases for companies in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries.
Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing (BSM) began with a staff of 16 and has steadily seen growth, said Shawn Kinney, CEO of the company. As part of a tax increment financing agreement with the Town of Lee, BSM pledged to create 60 jobs in its first five years.
“By the end of 2017, we had 60 employees. It’s 2019 and we have 100 employees and we still have time,” said Kinney. “By July, we should have double that amount.”
BSM converts drugs, usually powdered, into an injectable form, said Kinney. The company takes those drugs and fills them into vials, many of which are used in clinical trials in orthopedic and cancer treatments, for example. Unlike traditional forms of manufacturing, BSM doesn’t include an assembly line, said Jeremy Griffin, vice president of engineering.
“Our facility is temperature-controlled and requires a skilled labor force. These are jobs that make a difference and have an impact. They’re producing drugs that will save the lives of people,” said Griffin. “Our workers know that they’re doing something that matters.”
The company’s staff includes 48 females and 52 males, according to Jennifer Kratovil-Moriarty, senior manager of human resources. The average age of employees is 27. The company, she says, engages young adults through workforce development programs like Mass Life Sciences Internship Challenge and has hired many interns from that initiative.
Most recently, the company aided that employment pipeline by providing tours for Taconic High School, Middlesex Community College and Berkshire Community College.
“We have a global, vibrant and professional workplace with an on-site daycare for working parents, variety of compressed work schedule programs, attractive insurance, a new bonus incentive program and we listen to our employees on their needs to ensure we remain competitive,” Kratovil-Moriarty said.
The company donated 10,000 square-feet of its facility space at the Berkshire Corporate Center on Prospect Street to the Lee Youth Association for daycare programs. Employees receive a 25 percent discount.
The location, she says, allows employees to visit their children on a lunch break and be closer in the event of an emergency.
Another benefit the company offers that has been particularly attractive to millennials and other younger generations, is a flexible schedule, said Kinney. Instead of a traditional eight-hour day and a 40-hour work week, some employees are seeking four-day work weeks or opting for 12-hour shifts.
The option has been so popular that some employees have sought to switch from first shift to second based on their needs, said Kinney.
“We have one employee that has a painting business on the side and another that is building his own house. Giving flexible schedules allows our employees to live their lives outside of work,” he said.
That sense of belonging is also a key aspect BSM hopes to instill in its employees. In fact, every time a baby is born to an employee of the company, the birth is celebrated and recognized with a framed portrait on the wall, said Kratovil-Moriarty. In the last two years, there have been eight babies born.
Last year, MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, awarded BSM a $2 million loan for the expansion of its building.
The company has been using that funding toward the expansion of its cleanroom and warehouse facilities and construction of new visual inspection and final drug packaging suites. It also purchased additional sterile manufacturing equipment. The partnership helped to better poise the company’s growth of offerings, services and employee base.
As BSM continues to looks toward future growth, Kinney noted how he frequently shares a stand-up video performed by comedian Chris Rock to help demonstrate goals he’d like for his employees to achieve. Though riddled with expletives, Rock’s routine — “Kill the Messenger” — provides insights on the differences between a job and a career. For Kinney, he hopes he’s able to offer careers to employees at BSM.
“When you have a career, there isn’t enough time in the day, time just flies by, but when you have a job, there’s too much time. You spend the day watching the clock,” he said.
BSM is currently recruiting for 11 positions ranging from entry level to senior management. For more information, visit berkshiresterilemanufacturing.com.Tags: Lee, BSM