In the current pharmaceuticals boom, Millipore is cashing in on its sterling reputation by selling more filters, separators, and filtration membranes and cartridges to medical researchers.
The decision by Millipore chief executive William Zadel to expand into the semiconductor field has propelled the company into a new echelon. (Globe Staff Photo / Tom Landers)
But its new line of business - selling decontamination systems to semiconductor makers - added to Millipore's strengths and catapulted it to number nine in The Boston Globe's ranking of 100 top-performing companies in Massachusetts.
''We've done a lot of technological innovation, and we're benefiting from that,'' said Francis Lunger, chief operating officer. ''Everything's hitting at the same time.''
There wasn't so much confidence around Millipore three years ago, when the new chief executive, C. William Zadel, led an acquisition of Tylan General, a systems and monitor maker. Aimed at expanding its line of semiconductor products beyond the actual filters, the Tylan acquisition came months before the semiconductor industry went south during the Asian financial crisis.
A restructuring forced by that ill-timed acquisition caused a $38.8 million loss for Millipore in 1997. In 1998, the company began to turn around and its losses were transformed into a $9.9 million profit.
That profit grew sixfold in 1999, to $64.3 billion, driven by rising sales to biopharmaceutical researchers, especially those engaged in biomedical research involving the human genome. Coincidentally, the semiconductor unit, Microelectronics, also had growing revenues. That trend has continued in the first quarter of 2000, when Microelectronics's revenues increased 77 percent to $225 million.
''All things considered, it [Tylan] has turned out to be a good acquisition,'' Lunger said. Today, he added, ''we're recognized as a player in that business.''