Aesica CEO Hardy makes CDMO business fly

As the bumble bee doesn't know it shouldn't be able to fly, so Aesica Pharmaceuticals CEO Rob Hardy is unaware that the West can't compete with the East in high-volume pharma manufacturing. The one-time chemist stepped out of the lab to return a BASF fine chemicals plant to profitability. He ultimately became the buyer of that plant, turned it into a successful API operation, and then on to a contract development and manufacturing organization just as Big Pharma decided to outsource those activities.

In a Financial Times profile, Hardy reveals how his industry knowledge, international experience and plant turnaround expertise joined together into Aesica.

"Nobody in Germany says we can't compete because we are too expensive. We need to start selling ourselves a bit more," he says in the article. He disagrees with the consensus that costs are too high to make a profitable business of drug manufacturing in the U.K., where fast-growing Aesica is based.

He's a believer in acquisitions to fuel expansion and growth. "Any idiot can downsize a site and take out cost," he said in the article. "The most difficult thing is actually growing a business."

On the difficulty of becoming a contract manufacturer for Big Pharma, his solution was to buy sites from potential customers, make their products for them, and then take on additional work from other clients to boost site output. He has bought plants from Merck ($MRK), Abbott ($ABT) and UCB. Aesica now counts "most of the world's top 10 pharma companies" among its clients, according to the article.

- here's the profile