Editor’s Note: Chief Executive is kicking off a new annual tradition this year by celebrating every sizable (over $100 million in annual revenues) standalone company turning 100 in 2023. Check out the rest of this year’s class for tips, insights and, above all else, the inspiration you need to keep going….and going.
WEST PHARMACEUTICAL SERVICES
HQ: Exton, Pennsylvania
Revenues: $2.9 billion
When Herman O. West opened a small dental supply house in a modest Philadelphia storefront, his vision was simple: to provide solutions that improve the lives of patients. That overarching purpose fueled the company’s early growth, as it began developing medical product packaging designed to safely and efficiently store and distribute products like insulin and novocaine.
The company’s prospects surged in 1942, when the U.S. government sought a way to safely and speedily transport large quantities of the lifesaving antibiotic penicillin during World War II, and West Pharmaceuticals supplied the rubber closures that helped make it possible for troops, and later, civilians to receive the “miracle drug.” In the decades that followed, the company evolved along with the pharmaceutical industry, developing ever-more-sophisticated packaging solutions, including prefilled drug delivery systems that minimize medication waste and improve patient convenience.
Now a global company producing more than 47 billion components a year, West Pharmaceuticals continues a “laser focus” on investing in solutions aimed at improving healthcare, says Eric Green, president, CEO and chair. “Packaging and delivery solutions for advanced therapies are more complex than they were a few decades ago—and will only get more so with cell, gene therapy and other treatments being deployed,” he says. “By remaining customer-focused and centered, working side-by-side with our customers, we can help allow new drugs to get to market to address some critical needs for patients.”
For Green, West Pharmaceuticals’ journey from a small specialty shop to a global leader in pharmaceutical packaging is a testament to the importance of focus. “West has stayed true to our center of who we are and how we can impact healthcare,” says Green. “For long-term sustainability, it’s important to make sure that you understand your identity and continue to invest in the areas that reinforce that identity. But you also need a very strong lens on the market and to keep the organization on the right path, making adjustments if and when necessary.