Quiet achiever’s healthy out­look

Dubbo Photo News - - Business. -

Al­though part­ners Des Wheeler and Cameron Crowley tend to shy away from the lime­light, their Dubbo-based an­i­mal-de­rived bi­o­log­i­cal ma­te­ri­als busi­ness has been help­ing to save lives around the world since it first opened its doors in 2000. Now, the well-known lo­cal busi­ness­men are ready to take the op­er­a­tion to the next level, with Mav­er­ick Bio­sciences prov­ing, once again, that you don’t have to be in the big smoke to be in the big league. JEN COW­LEY spoke with Cameron Crowley about Mav­er­ick Bio­sciences’ quiet but ex­tra­or­di­nary con­tri­bu­tion both to re­gional busi­ness and global med­i­cal in­no­va­tion.

In lay­man’s terms, what does Mav­er­ick Bio­sciences do?

Vast quan­ti­ties of an­i­mal by-prod­ucts end up in hu­man health prod­ucts and we sup­ply that ma­te­rial – an­i­mal-de­rived bi­o­log­i­cals – for use in the man­u­fac­ture of those sur­gi­cal and med­i­cal prod­ucts.

So for in­stance, we pack whole frozen bovine gall blad­ders for a firm that uses the con­tents of those gall blad­ders in the man­u­fac­ture of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis vac­cine. A lot of our prod­ucts go to­wards the man­u­fac­ture of heart health and sur­gi­cal prod­ucts, kid­ney dial­y­sis, den­tal health. We sup­ply split pig-skins that can be used in wound care and her­nia patches; we pro­duce ten­dons for col­la­gen pro­duc­tion and bone ma­te­ri­als for graft pur­poses. All sorts of things.

Al­most none of our prod­ucts are used here in Aus­tralia – we’re al­most 100 per cent an ex­port busi­ness. Our mar­ket is spread right across the world, with Asia the fast-de­vel­op­ing mar­ket.

Fu­ture plans to meet that grow­ing mar­ket?

We’re ex­pand­ing to build a new “clean room” at new premises we’re de­vel­op­ing here in Dubbo be­cause we have a num­ber of clients who are in de­vel­op­ment in “first in man” tri­als (of health prod­ucts) that will soon have reg­u­la­tory ap­proval to go on the mar­ket. We could see that this new fa­cil­ity we’re de­vel­op­ing here will build a new foun­da­tion for the growth of our busi­ness. We’ll be tak­ing on a ver­ti­cally-in­te­grated pro­cess­ing role for our clients. We can be­come more of a med­i­cal prod­uct man­u­fac­turer as op­posed to a raw-ma­te­ri­als pro­ces­sor and ex­porter.

Where do you source your prod­uct?

We have teams in slaugh­ter­houses around the east coast of Aus­tralia. In the old days, what our clients used to do was go to an abat­toir, found a prod­uct and said, “okay, we can make this out of that”. What we’ve done is to find out what would be per­fect for the client – in terms of size and spec­i­fi­ca­tion – and we go and find the spe­cific an­i­mal byprod­uct to suit that need.

Our in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty is from the slaugh­ter­house back. Our in­for­mal catchcry for our busi­ness used to be “blood on our boots” – as in, we’d say to the clients, “We’ll do the slaugh­ter­house stuff – don’t worry about that end of it”. That’s done well for us so far, but the cul­ture of the or­gan­i­sa­tion now has to be that we are phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and med­i­cal de­vice minded oper­a­tors. We’ll be say­ing to clients that we’ll do an ex­tra­or­di­nary job of the man­u­fac­tur­ing and we’ll go into the slaugh­ter­houses and re­ally nail this for you.

Same ac­tiv­ity – com­pletely dif­fer­ent mind­set.

Your name in­cludes the word “bio­science” – how much sci­en­tific ac­tiv­ity goes on here?

Good ques­tion. Our clients ac­tu­ally dic­tate the tram-lines, if you like. They’ll say, “We need pig heart valves and we need them this size” and we’ll go from there. We’ll source those valves to spec­i­fi­ca­tion - Mav­er­ick Bio­sciences es­sen­tially does fresh and frozen ma­te­rial, while Mav­er­ick Bio­ma­te­ri­als is the ver­ti­cally in­te­grated man­u­fac­turer.

There must be some hefty spec­i­fi­ca­tions and re­quire­ments that you put in place for th­ese raw an­i­mal-by-prod­ucts. You ob­vi­ously can’t just walk into any old place and say give me that bucket of pig guts?

No, ex­actly. We have to know that the places we’re sourc­ing the prod­ucts are clean and dis­ease free. For­tu­nately, the Aus­tralian meat ex­port in­dus­try is pretty ro­bust in that re­gard – we ex­port to 70-odd coun­tries.

Has that formed part of your mar­ket­ing strat­egy – the fact that Aus­tralia is so “clean”?

Ab­so­lutely. We also have a busi­ness in New Zealand for the same pur­pose – it gives us ac­cess to dif­fer­ent types of ma­te­ri­als from dif­fer­ent cli­mates, ge­ogra­phies, dif­fer­ent cat­tle breeds and so on. Both Aus­tralia and New Zealand are per­ceived world­wide as the clean­est on the planet in terms of meat ex­port, al­though the Amer­i­cans have re-ar­gued them­selves back into the same stand­ing.

We can quite rea­son­ably ar­gue a ben­e­fit sim­ply based on geo­graphic iso­la­tion from dis­ease, can’t we?

In­deed – there’s no Mex­i­can or Cana­dian bor­ders here! That’s not why we win clients – we do that by sup­ply­ing the ideal ma­te­rial – but the dis­ease-free as­sur­ance is part of that.

What are the sorts of dis­ease con­trol mea­sures are in place?

Be­cause Aus­tralia is such a sig­nif­i­cant ex­porter of mainly ovine (sheep) and bovine (cat­tle) prod­ucts we have world­class dis­ease and man­age­ment con­trols in place al­ready be­cause we ex­port ed­i­ble an­i­mal prod­ucts to so many coun­tries. The RFID tag­ging sys­tem is fan­tas­tic, for in­stance, for ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency.

So how does that pig heart valve, for ar­gu­ment’s sake, get from the slaugh­ter­house to the client? What’s the process from whoa to go?

Good ques­tion. We cus­tomise the sup­ply chain. It’s a be­spoke sup­ply chain de­vel­op­ment for each and ev­ery client. The nu­ances are sig­nif­i­cant. So we look at the client’s spec­i­fi­ca­tions and costs of pro­duc­tion and use the re­sources we have avail­able to sup­ply the prod­uct ac­cord­ingly. Ev­ery en­quiry is dif­fer­ent and treated in­di­vid­u­ally. We know from start to fin­ish what each prod­uct is for and where in the world it’s go­ing. It’s a busi­ness-to-busi­ness ex­change.

How do you phys­i­cally get the prod­uct to the client? Does it have to be re­frig­er­ated or frozen and what are the time­frames in­volved?

We have a lot of prod­uct that needs to be shipped at be­tween 2-6 de­grees Cel­sius and it needs to get to its desti­na­tion in 48 hours. If it ar­rives at 48 hours and one minute, the whole ship­ment is re­jected – zero dol­lars, bad luck, come again to­mor­row.

Is that a draw­back of our ge­og­ra­phy?

Ab­so­lutely. Aus­tralia isn’t that close to the rest of the world. But that’s the yin and yang of the whole thing – for in­stance, we’re dis­ease free be­cause we’re a bloody long way away! I like fly­ing a long way – it means it’s safer.

A lot of what we do is by air. With the slaugh­ter­houses we use, we’ve built our own lo­gis­ti­cal so­lu­tions – for in­stance, we use spe­cialised ship­pers that will hold tem­per­a­ture for 96 hours that can be trucked by gen­eral freight. That sort of stuff – but it’s all done in col­lab­o­ra­tion with clients.

Is there an eth­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tion with us­ing an­i­mal prod­ucts?

In re­al­ity, our clients are deal­ing with that is­sue. The clients that are com­ing to us have al­ready made the de­ci­sion to use an­i­mal-de­rived ma­te­ri­als in their prod­ucts.

Is that an area of risk for your busi­ness as the an­i­mal wel­fare move­ment grows in strength?

In the ge­og­ra­phy of the man­u­fac­tur­ing client, if it im­pacted them, then yes. If the client de­cides they no longer want to use an­i­mal prod­ucts, they want to use syn­thetic ma­te­rial, then that ob­vi­ously has an im­pact on us.

So why is an­i­mal-de­rived ma­te­rial bet­ter for use in med­i­cal and sur­gi­cal prod­ucts?

I sup­pose it’s just that an­i­mal-de­rived prod­ucts are nat­u­ral. For in­stance, try to use man-made ma­te­ri­als to man­u­fac­ture a col­la­gen mem­brane that’s been “built” over an evo­lu­tion­ary time-frame of X, it’s pretty hard go­ing. And you can’t know what ef­fect that prod­uct is go­ing to have on the hu­man body, say, ten years from now. An­i­mal-de­rived ma­te­rial can be man­u­fac­tured (for use in med­i­cal prod­ucts) in such a way that the hu­man body will re-pop­u­late the struc­ture with its own cells and ba­si­cally graft into it. With a syn­thetic sub­stance, that’s not go­ing to hap­pen.

It’s a pretty cool thing that you’re do­ing here be­hind the doors of this unas­sum­ing “shop front”. You’re help­ing to save lives all over the world. Do you ever stop and re­ally re­flect on that?

It is very cool. We don’t talk about it of­ten, but ev­ery day we ship a num­ber of mem­branes, for in­stance, that will even­tu­ally help to add five to fif­teen years of life for some­one some­where in the world. So ev­ery­one who’s in­volved with this busi­ness – from lo­gis­tics, to sales to the per­son who checks the in­voices… ev­ery­one is in­volved.

Our pur­pose is “de­liv­er­ing an­i­mal-de­rived bi­o­log­i­cal so­lu­tions glob­ally sav­ing lives”.

We have ladies who work in pro­duc­tion teams and we ask them why they’re work­ing for us – they say “well, I can get up at 5 o’clock in the morn­ing and go to my lo­cal slaugh­ter­house and con­trib­ute to life sav­ing prod­ucts”.

So the move to the new premises is to al­low for ex­pan­sion of the busi­ness.

Yes, we started in 2000 the Kemwah build­ing and then moved in next to a yoga stu­dio up­stairs from the Ama­roo. Then, when we moved in here (the premises in Wheel­ers Lane) we thought, “Wow – we’re never go­ing to fill this space”! Within two years we were go­ing, “hmmm – okay, we need more room”. De­vel­op­ing th­ese new premises has taken a fair bit of gump­tion, but we’re do-

We know from start to fin­ish what each prod­uct is for and where in the world it’s go­ing. It’s a busi­ness-to-busi­ness ex­change.

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