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2/11/2018 1:01:00 PM
Bloomington biotech firm embraces rapid expansion, prepares for more
J. Jeff Schwegman, right, CEO and founder of AB BioTechnologies, explains to marketing specialist Tarah Cromer Tuesday how the BioPure water purifier will take city water and make it acceptable for use in pharmaceutical formulation and process development of injectable drug products at the company’s new building on the west side of Bloomington.
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J. Jeff Schwegman, right, CEO and founder of AB BioTechnologies, explains to marketing specialist Tarah Cromer Tuesday how the BioPure water purifier will take city water and make it acceptable for use in pharmaceutical formulation and process development of injectable drug products at the company’s new building on the west side of Bloomington.

Kurt Christian, Herald-Times

Up until last summer, AB BioTechnologies CEO and founder Jeff Schwegman had only bought one piece of new equipment in his company’s seven-year history. Now, he’s built a new 24,000-square-foot facility full of millions of dollars in equipment near the current 2,000 square feet of office space rented by the company.

Since breaking ground last May, Schwegman has steadily increased the budget for the company’s new headquarters. After he found himself sitting bolt upright in the middle of the night to worry over everything from drawer handles to FDA-approved clean rooms, the original $10.5 million investment for the project has grown closer to $12 million. It’s an expansion that has drawn the attention of larger contract manufacturing organizations with its nimble approach to the development, manufacturing, testing, inspection, packaging and shipping of drug products.

“I think we’re still living lean,” Schwegman said. “But it has just been my nature to step out of my comfort zone. It was always in the back of my mind to do what we’re doing here.” 

Schwegman said he hasn’t had to go looking for investors, and what loans he’s received include Small Business Administration guarantees. The company is considering making more shares available to support expanded utility and machine costs. It’s no wonder, since the company has its eyes on $4 million worth of additional equipment beyond the 2,000-gallon water tank and robotic filling machine it has already purchased.

It was easy to sell clients on the idea, Schwegman said. The sheer number of new drugs that are coming out of discovery have been a major factor in the company’s growth.

The new facility features research and development as well as quality control labs. There’s a touring corridor for clients to view the nonproprietary elements of the drug development and manufacturing process with their own eyes. After overseeing their drug’s development, clients will also be welcomed to their own workspace.

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