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Indian Pharmaceutical Engineering Firm Chooses Slate Belt for U.S. Expansion

By Colin McEvoy on April 1, 2016

Continuing the growing trend of international companies investing in the Lehigh Valley, a pharmaceutical engineering firm from India has chosen the Slate Belt as the launching point for their expansion into the U.S. market.

Accura Pharmaquip Corp., which develops sophisticated machines and equipment used in the development and inspection of pharmaceutical drugs, has established a presence in Bangor that the company hopes will grow over the next several years.

“Our goals are to grow sustainably and really build a reputable brand,” said Paul Gillette, a Lehigh Valley native who is working with Accura on the joint venture. “We want to build a presence in this industry, and this is the best spot to build that brand.”

Gillette, whose family has long worked in manufacturing out of Bangor, will run a 13,000 square-foot facility in the borough, selling manufacturing and engineering pharmaceutical equipment and stainless steel equipment. It currently employs only three people, but Gillette expects to have 25 employees there by mid-2017.

Gillette said while Accura’s success will ultimately come down to sales, but that their goals are not strictly monetary.

“Instead of measuring success strictly by money or number of sales, I want to measure it by employee numbers and growth,” he said. “Bringing jobs and opportunity to the region is important to me individually. Having 25 employees by 2017 isn’t just an expectation, but a goal we are going to approach with tenacity.”

Nilesh Phadnis, president of Accura in Mumbai, India, said the Lehigh Valley was an ideal location for this expansion because of its central location and access to markets. With pharmaceutical manufacturers located all along the East Coast, he said it was optimally located for the company’s line of work.

“Paul is raring to go forward with the new establishment,” Phadnis said. “He is keen to cater to industries other than the pharmaceutical that would require our services, once we are well founded with the pharmaceutical industry here. I totally agree with and support his plans, and together, we aim to achieve a formidable reputation in this field.”

Accura was founded in 1978 and employs about 50 people in India. Among their products are tablet and capsule inspection machines, label counting machines, IBC blenders, packing line conveyors, material handling equipment, die & punch cabinets, sealing machines, cleaning room equipment, and more.

“We have been in this field for thirty years and our market in India is widespread,” Phadnis said. “For over a decade, we have exported to various countries too, in all continents. With a view to enhancing our presence out of India, we aim to establish a full-fledged working firm in the USA.”

The Lehigh Valley has been experiencing a growing trend of foreign direct investment in recent years. Eight of the Lehigh Valley’s 19 major business attraction/expansion projects last year, or 42 percent, were from international companies.

Some of those companies include Norac, a French bakery products company; Safran, a French aerospace company; Primark, an Irish fashion retailer; Fuling Plastics, a Chinese plastic flatware manufacturer; SunOpta, a Canadian food product company; and Nihon Kohden, a Japanese medical device manufacturer.

Gillette’s family has long worked in the manufacturing business. His grandmother and grandfather started A&J Machine Shop in 1981. His mother also started her own company, Dee Gillette Industrial, or DGI, which she moved to Bangor. DGI made mechanical parts for such companies as Kraft, Nabisco, and M&M Mars.

“My family’s history is in Bangor and the Lehigh Valley,” Gillette said. “We want to bring jobs here and help the economy.”

A graduate of Ithaca College, Gillette previously worked in sales and marketing for Power Home Remodeling Group in Chester, Pa. He learned about a mutual business acquaintance who worked with both DGI and Accura, who introduced him to Phadnis after learning that Accura was seeking to establish a U.S. presence.

Gillette formed a partnership with Phadnis after visiting India to learn more about Accura. The two quickly found they had very similar personal histories, with both coming from family companies in the manufacturing industry that were started by their grandfathers and passed down to future generations.

“It’s almost serendipitous,” Gillette said. “This all happened very fast, but the relationship seemed like the right fit and we decided to move forward.”

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