Supplier Stories: TTE Laboratories
TTE Laboratories is the world’s first affordable, metrology-driven, ISO/IEC 17025:2005 and 8655 compliant pipette service provider. President and CEO Benjamin Leverone spoke to tealbook from their headquarters near Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Myself and the two other people who founded the company were working for a biotech company in the 1980s. They were sending equipment out to be calibrated—what’s called pipettes. They measure liquids, and large pharma and biotech companies have thousands of them. They measure liquids accurately down to and below one micro-litre, which is a millionth of a litre. The company was sending them to OEM’s, and they were slow and expensive. Myself and the other two gentlemen started doing the work for the company we were working for, and then branched out over time to rent our own space and then begin work for other biotech and pharma companies in the area.
It’s definitely a niche market. There’s maybe fifty across the country. Maybe ten or so large players. There’s a lot of people who actually go onto the customer’s site to do the work, which we don’t. We have more of a regulated process and do work for companies that are FDA regulated, so they have to be a little bit more stringent in how they take care of their own equipment.
We have a lot of experience in the field. It’s really a field you could term liquid handling. What these instruments do is people use them to aspirate liquids in specific quantities and then dispense them into test tubes to mix their reagents for the experiment. In one case a client was having some issues with their methodology, their testing. They called us in to see if some of the issues could have been from pipetting. We also do training in this regard, in showing people how to do this correctly. We were able to help the customer overcome this obstacle by providing training and then by providing a different methodology and equipment use so they could overcome some of the hurdles they were having.
I would say what makes us unique is our longevity and our experience, and also our adherence to high quality, and specific guidelines to do this work accurately and reproducibility for customers who are in the regulated market. In all markets there’s people who try to deliver higher quality and then people who may just try to make a buck and cut corners—we’re not like that. I think it’s always about that high quality work. High quality in terms of customer service and direction and then delivering on those. Some of our larger clients have been with us 25 years—companies like Pfizer, Biogen, Sanofi Genzyme. We have a high level of retention because of our ability to do the work for them and have them not have to worry about any compliance issues with the FDA.
We innovate in terms of the ability to do this work on a quick turnaround time, and in that the kind of documentation we provide on the work is on a higher level than other companies. The total value of the transaction is higher for the customer. I wouldn’t be in this if I was just making money but people didn’t think highly of what we do. To me first, it’s about doing good and providing more value than the customer pays for what they get. I think that breeds success. For me, personally, what’s engaging is to succeed as a company. To be thought of as high quality, a company that provides value to our customers.
We’re located outside of Boston, Cambridge, which has been termed the epicentre in the world for pharmaceutical and biotech in terms of its density. The future here and worldwide in terms of research and pharmaceuticals, I think it’s only growing. It’s going to be a long, long time before we figure out everything in the body, and man has a desire to solve all his health problems and extend his life. So I think the field will continue to grow, and we’ll continue to grow along with it.
This interview has been edited and condensed.