In the years since, Aldevron has grown to become a world leader in custom production of DNA, RNA, protein and plasmid antibodies for nearly 5,000 biotech research clients worldwide.
Aldevron is months away from completing a second building on its headquarters campus that will allow the company to expand its production capacity 10 times. Warehouse capacity will increase fivefold with expansion.
The new building under construction is one of three planned additions to the campus and will increase Aldevron’s workforce from 540 to 1,000 when completed in approximately three years, and will give the company annual capacity in excess of $ 1 billion. of production of biological products, according to BioPharma Reporter, an interchange Publication.
So, with all that is happening, Chambers decided it is time to take on the role of CEO and hire a new CEO to help lead the company as it charts its growth trajectory.
Starting July 13, Kevin Ballinger will take over as CEO of Aldevron. Ballinger, a mechanical engineer, has spent 25 years at Boston Scientific, where he serves as executive vice president and global president of the company’s interventional cardiology unit in the Twin Cities.
“This is the only job I’ve ever had,” Chambers said. “There’s certainly an emotional attachment to the role, but it’s the right thing to do. That is offset by the great opportunity and the excitement.”
Along with his team, Ballinger is credited with building a division with annual revenues of $ 3 billion and 2,000 employees worldwide. Boston Scientific, which makes medical devices, has annual revenues of $ 10 billion and 30,000 employees worldwide.
Chambers anticipates continued significant growth for Aldevron, with a second campus possible in five to 10 years.
“We are just beginning in what we can become,” he said. “There are tremendous opportunities to serve our clients and their patients. We have been doing it for 22 years, but I still feel like we are just getting started.”
He added: “My dream is that Aldevron is to biotechnology what Bobcat is to construction and agriculture,” a ubiquitous name in healthcare and a major employer in North Dakota.
The completion of the campus, with an additional 500,000 square feet in construction projects reaching hundreds of millions of dollars, is “just a start,” Chambers said.
“It is the right time to attract a good leader like Kevin to scale the company to 1,000 people and more,” he said.
In his role as CEO, Chambers will focus on strategy, new technology development, research and development, and will work closely with key clients, without losing sight of the “market and competitive landscape.”
Originally from Minneapolis, Ballinger said being named CEO of Aldevron is “super inspiring” with the opportunity to help large numbers of patients through the work of the company’s customers.
“This industry is very exciting,” he said. “I think genetic medicine is the future.”
Aldevron, which serves the biotech industry with its production of custom materials, plays a critical role in that future, Ballinger said.
Fargo-Moorhead has the potential to create a biotech equivalent of “Medical Alley” in the twin cities of the northwest, where major medical device manufacturers have grouped together, he said. He added that this will create well-paying career opportunities for the area, which will help attract more companies.
“The talent pool grows and grows and grows,” driven by one or two large organizations, Ballinger said. “That is my vision for Fargo in the world of biotechnology. It is an exciting time for Fargo, North Dakota and Aldevron.”
Biotechnology is undergoing a scientific revolution with the help of artificial intelligence and computer technology. Continuous advancements in cell therapy and gene therapy are driving rapid growth in the industry, Chambers said.
The initial focus on cures for rare diseases is expanding, with research on treatments for a wide spectrum of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, Chambers said.
“Medicine is changing very fast,” with a future of personalized patient therapy, he said.
The idea of hiring a new CEO to oversee operations, which had been leaking for some time, came up as Chambers visited his father, who was being treated for an illness at the Mayo Clinic for nearly two months.
The experience of seeing so many patients and their families made him reflect on Aldevron’s supporting role in medical research, Chambers wrote in an email to staff announcing the hiring of Ballinger.
“I saw Mayo patients who had come from all over the world,” he wrote. “Many had just learned of their diagnosis and were scared and scared. Some were parents of young children with rare diseases. It is an honor to know that we are involved in developing treatments that will help some of these patients and their families.”
Aldevron has worked with 1,000 gene therapies developed by laboratories around the world, Chambers said. As it strives to become more involved in the development of new therapies, the company is preparing to work in partnership with pharmaceutical companies on its Fargo campus, he said.
To achieve its expansion goals, Aldevron is working with area universities, including NDSU, the University of North Dakota, Minnesota Moorhead State University, and Concordia College, to develop the workforce.
Along with North Dakota’s agriculture and energy sectors, “We believe that medical research and life sciences will be a kind of third leg of that stool,” Chambers said.
For that to happen, the specialized workforce could end up attracting competitors, something Chambers said he actually appreciates.
“We want to be able to recruit the best people in the world, develop the best people to serve this industry,” he said. “This field is new to everyone. Every step we take is like the first of its kind. We are all learning together.”
Capital backing to carry out Aldevron’s ambitious growth plans was made possible by a pair of partnerships the company formed with investment firms.
In 2017, TA Associates, a private equity firm, took an equity stake and became an advisor to help Aldevron expand the size and scope of its operations. Last year EQT Partners, a Swedish-based private equity firm, acquired a majority stake in Aldevron in a deal that a Wall Street investment banker reportedly estimated to be $ 3.4 billion.
Over time, Chambers believes that Aldevron will expand its operations to other cities in North Dakota.
“This will be much bigger than a Fargo thing in the future,” he said. Now with new leadership, “I think there are resources to build an industry.”