As a young baseball player, moving from Cave Spring High School to Virginia Tech University was a challenge for Ray Kaczmarek.
Three decades later, Kaczmarek finds himself in a similar situation. As the new CEO at Genezen, Kaczmarek is helping usher in a new era for the Indianapolis-based manufacturer, which is making a significant leap of its own.
Thanks in part to an undisclosed investment from Ampersand Capital Partners, Genezen is building a new site that will transform it from a small networking firm to a full-fledged cell and gene therapy CDMO.
Construction is underway on the 75,000-square-foot lentiviral and retroviral vector production facility. Genezen expects the site to come online in the first half of 2022, after manufacturing suites are completed. The new plant will bring growth from a couple dozen employees to more than 100.
Along with all the new additions is a subtraction. From 2014, when the company launched, it was known as Genezen Laboratories.
“We’re not just a simple laboratory anymore. We’re more than that,” Kaczmarek said in an interview. “We’re a partner in early-stage viral vector manufacturing, and we really are a solutions provider.”
When current board chairman Bill Vincent founded the company, he set out to connect academia and pharma. Vincent’s association with viral vector production veteran Ken Cornetta, M.D., of Indiana University helped refine the company’s vision.
In a booming field where demand has outpaced supply, Genezen has parlayed fortuitous timing and expertise, finding a ready market for its services. Clients have included Legend Biotech, Orchard and Kite.
From 2017-19, Genezen saw revenue grow 424%, prompting the Indiana Business Journal to name it the fastest-growing company in central Indiana.
“This is an unmet need. We’re seeing this massive explosion,” Kaczmarek said. “As we continue to see capacity growth, we’ll see the technologies come with it.”
Kaczmarek brings executive-level experience from his last three stops. He was vice president of manufacturing and supply chain operations at Pacira Biosciences, president at Nitto Avecia and most recently VP of GMP operations at TriLink Biotechnologies.
“I’m an operations supply chain guy and got a little bit of commercial experience,” Kaczmarek said. “Having to do high-profile builds, as well as supply pieces, has allowed me to transition well with the philosophies at Genezen.
“We have a really good opportunity here,” Kaczmarek said. “What we are doing today, will not be the same thing we’re doing tomorrow. We will be growing in size. We’ll be growing in complexity. We’ll be growing with our clients trying to take them through long-term, phase 3 commercial manufacturing.”