CLSA Sits Down with ALT to Discuss San Diego Expansion and Reach
CLSA: Tell us about the exciting new facility ALT that launched this month in San Diego and what fellow CLSA members can expect?
ALT: The new showroom, located at 6444 Nancy Ridge Drive, is fantastic and it has street frontage which is a valuable addition to any business. The building is close to 14,000 square feet over two levels and there are more than 1,000 instruments on display in the warehouse and showroom, with many more items on the way. We’ve also set up a demo lab where customers can stop in and test the instruments that are on display, such as an Agilent HPLC or GC. We have a team of account managers on-site who can provide scheduled tours or accommodate walk-ins, and we invite customers to meet our service team to answer any questions they may have about an instrument. In 2017, we’ll be rolling out special pricing and a customer loyalty program to all CLSA members. Watch this space for more info.
CLSA: ALT’s expansion into the San Diego market demonstrates a serious commitment on your part to serve the life sciences companies locally and beyond. What prompted this expansion and what is the long term goal?
ALT: For the last 17 years, ALT has been serving the San Diego market, and more than 60 countries, from our Connecticut headquarters. Now, as we begin to implement the next phase of our growth plan, it made good business sense to have a location in one of the largest biotech hubs in the country. In doing so, we are providing our customers with several immediate benefits – the ability to view the equipment in person, reduce shipping costs, faster delivery to their lab, and immediate response for service. The local presence has also greatly enhanced our surplus asset management opportunities in which we help companies monetize their retired instruments. Expect continued growth in southern California especially into the increasingly important Los Angeles and Orange County market, as well as an increased presence in San Francisco.
CLSA: What is the biggest value that life sciences companies can expect from collaborating with ALT?
ALT: There are three key areas that life science companies can expect value when collaborating with ALT. First, customer service. We’re in this for the long haul and whether it’s before, during, or long after the customer makes a purchase, we want to be their first phone call if they need support. Not many companies can make that promise. Reducing customer downtime is the driving force behind the high level of customer and technical support that we provide. While unforeseen circumstances can arise at any time, a key factor in our long-term success can be attributed to how we respond to customers when they need it most. It’s a promise we make to each and every customer and I firmly we believe that we deliver upon it.
Next, ALT has made a significant investment to ensure that our products are of the highest quality. I think we’ve really raised the bar in the industry. We stock more than 12,000 items in our east and west coast facilities and we have the expertise to test, service, and deliver each item with up to a one-year warranty. What’s really satisfying for me is that we’ve been able to offer the highest level of service in the industry while keeping our pricing extremely competitive.
Third, surplus asset management. For nearly 17 years, ALT has been a leader in helping companies monetize their surplus equipment and provide maximum ROI. We offer a wide variety of customized services to help with ongoing surplus removal or one-time asset liquidation. Earlier this year, we acquired more than 600 instruments from BP Biofuels after they closed their facility in San Diego. We also worked with Kinemed, a biotech in Emeryville, which needed to shut down and liquidate a 15,000 square foot working lab in a very short period of time. The company partnered with ALT to manage the project, which included facility decommissioning as well as equipment decontamination, removal, and liquidation all within a two week window. Our team is highly experienced in this field.
CLSA: Having served the biotech community for over 17 years, what trends are you seeing from your clients on a needs basis and how does ALT leverage those business trends in its product portfolio?
ALT: Five or six years ago, our largest customer demographic was the academic sector. Now, the academic sector accounts for less than 25 percent of our business, with small to mid-size biotech companies and early stage life science companies taking the lead. The reason for this is that the resale market has matured to the point that it’s become ‘okay’ for companies to find a trusted source for lab equipment. Clearly, with the influx of investments in the biotech community, companies are using their money on resources such as talent and shared lab space, rather than investing in lab buildouts and new equipment. These changes in the market have prompted us to invest in shared lab space and incubators around the country. To date, we have committed $2,000,000 in lab equipment and services to LabCentral in Cambridge, QB3@953 in San Francisco, CURE Innovation Commons in Connecticut, and last month, we announced a new gold sponsorship with BioLabs network of life sciences co-working spaces including their new location in San Diego. We want to be part of the solution to lower the cost of entry for early stage companies.
CLSA: CLSA was delighted to have ALT donate a $25K check for ALT lab equipment to one of our 2017 Pantheon DiNA Awards recipients this month…what is the most popular equipment that you find most companies are pining for as they look to stretch their budget costs while maintaining the highest standard of quality?
ALT: Thanks. It was an honor to participate in the Pantheon DiNA Awards. We were truly humbled to meet Elizabeth Schar from Ravenswood Science Initiative in Palo Alto for the work she does with middle school kids. She is a true inspiration to us all.
As for the most popular equipment, we sell everything from small benchtop accessories like hotplates and balances, all the way up to more complex systems such as bioreactors, LC/MS/MS, and NMR units. However, our top-selling instruments are Agilent Technologies HPLC components and systems. As an Agilent Channel Partner, our customers can purchase factory refurbished equipment complete with installation, on-site service, one-year warranty, and licensed software for about the same price as buying an inferior system elsewhere. We hope that offering high quality products like this, combined with exceptional service, makes our customer’s experience memorable and one that keeps them coming back.