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					MARCH 2008/cHESAPEAKE BUSINESS LEDGER                           FOCUS ON MANUFACTURING                                                                                   25
Konsyl executive travels to India to audit suppliers
           By RICHARD McNEY

  EASTON — Easton-based Konsyl
Pharmaceuticals audits its suppliers on
a regular basis to ensure that the ingre-
dients it uses meet United States
Pharmacopeia (USP) standards as a
requirement of the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration. USP is the official pub-
lic standards-setting authority for pre-
scription and over-the-counter medi-
cines, dietary supplements and other
healthcare products manufactured and
sold in the United States.
   The main ingredient used in Konsyl’s
over-the-counter bulk fiber products is
the ground-up husks of the blonde psyl-
lium plant. The plant is not found grow-
ing in local farm fields or even U.S.
farms. India is the main producer of the
plant and where Konsyl sources all the
million to 1.2 million pounds of psyllium
it uses in a year.
   In January Konsyl Pharmaceuticals
Executive Vice President and Chief
Operating Officer John Flohr took a
seven-day trip to India to audit the com-
pany’s psyllium suppliers and came
away with the “trip of a lifetime.”
    The original Konsyl product was
patented in 1933 in Washington D.C. by
the National Vaccine and Antitoxin
Institute. The company was sold to a        Konsyl Pharmaceuticals Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John Flohr, on the left, visited the Taj Mahal with
company called Burton and Parsons           U.S. commodity broker Amarish Parikh, president of Ampak Company. Flohr was in India to audit Konsyl’s psyllium suppliers.
that came to Clifton Industrial Park in
Easton in 1975 and has gone through         Konsyl manufactures have been shown         other products due to customers’ needs
several ownership changes since.            to help with a number of ailments           and the growing importance of fiber in
Today, Konsyl Pharmaceuticals has its       including constipation, diarrhea, hem-      the health industry.
headquarters in Easton, is owned by         orrhoids, diverticular disease, Irritable     Konsyl manufactures about 12 prod-
ICC Chemical Corporation and                Bowel Syndrome, high cholesterol and        ucts which can be found in national
employs more than 62 people.                Type 2 Diabetes, Flohr said. In recent      chain stores and on the Internet. The
   The natural dietary fiber supplements    years the company has created several       products are also marketed directly to
                                                                                        gastroenterologists, colorectal sur-
                                                                                        geons and other specialists. In the last
                                                                                        quarter Konsyl released a new bladder
                                                                                        control dietary supplement which uses
                                                                                        pumpkin seed extract and soy
                                                                                        isoflavone extract, but its 100 percent     Pictured is the seed of the psyllium
                                                                                        natural psyllium fiber products remain      plant. The main ingredient in many of
                                                                                        the staple, Flohr said.                     Konsyl’s products is the ground husks
                                                                                          “Something that I always wanted to        of the seed.
                                                                                        see was the entire process of how this
                                                                                        unique grain is grown, gets processed         The entire process from farm field in
                                                                                        and gets delivered to me,” said Flohr,      India to store shelf takes about seven
                                                                                        who has been associated with the prod-      months, which is why Konsyl maintains
                                                                                        uct since 1975 and came to the Eastern      an inventor y of psyllium and stays
                                                                                        Shore facility in 1983. “When you order     aware of the growing season, Flohr
                                                                                        more than a million pounds a year you       said.
                                                                                        kind of wonder.”                              Flohr spent a day visiting farms in the
                                                                                          The trip was Flohr’s first to India and   state of Rajasthan. Psyllium is almost
                                                                                        was a learning experience that left him     like a wild grass, is cultivated in rows
                                                                                        with a lot of memories, he said. He was     and grows to about 18 inches tall, he
                                                                                        provided with a guide, a car and an         said. It is a pretty hardy plant and is
                                                                                        interpreter, but often had to fly from      grown in a desert type area, he said.
                                                                                        place to place because everything is so       Psyllium is a rotation crop for farmers
                                                                                        spread out. He saw all the stages of        in the area and takes about four months
                                                                                        psyllium production in India, from the      to grow, he said. The crop fields are
Konsyl Pharmaceuticals Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John        farm to when the processed husks are
Flohr toured several farms in India where psyllium is grown. Pictured with him are      shipped out of Mumbai (formerly                            See INDIA
three brothers who farm psyllium and other crops.                                       known as Bombay) on container ship.                         Page 30

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30                                                                   FOCUS ON MANUFACTURING                                                  CHESAPEAKE BUSINESS LEDGER/MARCH 2008

Sensata Technologies to let go of roughly 50 workers
     After saying buyout would not                             workers Feb. 7. Workers will be given separation ben-           moved to Mexico and China.
      negatively affect employees                              efits, and may be eligible for an 18-month extension on          With the manufacturing jobs gone, the Cambridge
                                                               health care, Megathlin said. On-site career workshops           site will remain a business facility with more than 100
                                                               will be held to help employees with resume writing              workers. It will continue to have marketing, engineer-
                     By JENNIFER FU                            and interviewing skills.                                        ing, customer service and other business-related jobs.
              Special from The Star Democrat                    The plant manufactured circuit protectors used in               “All of us are really familiar with the trend of losing
                                                               power supply, telecommunications, data communica-               manufacturing jobs we continue to see in this environ-
 CAMBRIDGE — About 50 workers will be laid off from            tions and military equipment.                                   ment,” said Dorchester County Economic
the Sensata Technologies plant, formerly called                 “This was a difficult decision, especially because of          Development Director Brad Broadwell. “Engineering
Airpax, in order for the company to move manufactur-           the impact on people and jobs,” said Dennis Karr, the           jobs are certainly important for us to maintain and
ing operations to Mexico, leaving the Cambridge site           Sensata Technologies senior vice president and power            keep because these are the highly skilled jobs that are
a purely business operation.                                   controls manager, in a press release. “Completing the           less susceptible to off-shoring.”
 Sensata Technologies, a Massachusetts-based                   move of manufacturing operations from Cambridge to               Broadwell said the Dorchester County Council is
manufacturer of power controls and sensing                     Mexico will enable us to operate more efficiently and           moving forward with plans to open a 113-acre business
devices, bought Airpax at 807 Woods Road last June.            place us in a better position to continue to invest in          incubator and technology park on Bucktown Road.
Sensata said last year the purchase would not nega-            growth that will benefit both our customers and                  As the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs continue,
tively affect employees, but announced Feb. 7 that             employees.”                                                     the county is looking to attract more highly skilled
the Cambridge plant will close. Fifty manufacturing             The move is in response to global competition, said            work. The county has hired two engineering firms to
jobs will be moved to Matamoros, Mexico, to lower              Megathlin. She said many of Sensata’s customers have            perform the water and sewer and infrastructure
company costs.                                                 moved to Mexico and China.                                      improvements for the technology park, Broadwell
 Workers will be laid off in the next 12 months, said           “Our customers are moving to lower cost locations              said.
Sensata spokeswoman Linda Megathlin. Lay-offs will             and we have to move to lower cost locations as well in           The project has been in the works for many years and
start in July and continue into early 2009.                    order to compete,” she said. Last August Sensata                ideas for the park started in 2004. The county is con-
 Managers at the Cambridge site broke the news to              announced 85 jobs at its Frederick plant would be               tinuing to look for grants to fund the park.

                Page 25

flooded for the first two months and it
grows for another two months until it is
hand harvested.
  Flohr said he had a fascinating conver-
sation with two women who had been
living on one of the farms for more than
50 years and he was continually
impressed with the hospitality of every-
one he met.
  Once psyllium is harvested the seed is
brought to a nearby government-regu-
lated market. Flohr visited one market
and was impressed with how controlled
the process was.
    While there are many psyllium
processors in India, Konsyl uses four
which have been reliable for the last 24
years, Flohr said.
  “I went out and inspected their entire
facilities and made sure they were in
line with what we would expect a suppli-
er to do for us,” he said.
  The processors purchase psyllium
seeds from a market and bring them
back to their facilities where they
are fumigated, cleaned, dehusked,
classified, bagged and shipped by
truck to Mumbai to be shipped by
container ship to the U.S. All of the          Konsyl Pharmaceuticals Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John Flohr visited a market in India with Suketu Shah, the man-
processors passed the audit, Flohr             aging partner of R.C. Enterprise, which operates one of the biggest psyllium processing plants in India. Psyllium is piled in the background.
  The managing partners of most of the         partner is in his mid-twenties or early           The processed psyllium and senna               fill the roads in the towns that it can
processors are highly educated, many           thirties.                                       arrive in Norfolk, where they undergo            take more than three hours to travel 40
of whom have master of business                  Flohr also audited a processor that           review by U.S. Customs and the FDA.              miles.
administration degrees from U.S. uni-          processes senna plants for a product            The ingredients are then shipped by                 Flohr also visited the Taj Mahal and
versities, he said. The typical story is       Konsyl        manufactures       called         truck to Konsyl’s Easton facility where          the Gateway of India. Despite being
the processing business is a family            SennaPrompt. The product is used to             they are processed further and used to           warned by people to be careful when
business and the current managing              relieve constipation.                           create the company’s products. While             eating the food, he enjoyed it.
                                                                                               the U.S. is the company’s primary mar-              “I found the food to be interesting,
                                                                                               ket, Konsyl’s products are shipped to            delightful and I lost five pounds
                                                                                               customers around the world, Flohr                because I changed my diet from eating
                                                                                               said.                                            meats and processed foods,” he said.
                                                                                                 While Flohr’s trip was primarily for           “The portions are small, but it is satisfy-
                                                                                               business, he was able to experience              ing.”
                                                                                               the beauty of the land, the unique                   In addition to auditing Konsyl’s
                                                                                               architecture and the vibrant colors of           processors, Flohr was able to see first-
                                                                                               the clothing. He said he was                     hand how the global economy works.
                                                                                               impressed with the tremendous                       “To me it was a trip of a lifetime,” he
                                                                                               growth and improvements that are                 said.
                                                                                               ongoing in the countr y, but it was                Flohr added that Konsyl’s parent com-
                                                                                               hard to witness the extreme poverty              pany has made a commitment to
                                                                                               in other areas.                                  remain in Easton.
                                                                                                 “That is one of the things that I will           “We are very proud of being an active
                                                                                               always remember,” he said.                       member of the town of Easton,” he said.
                                                                                                 While the country does have some                  For more information on Konsyl
                                                                                               good major highways he compared                  Pharmaceuticals or its products,
                                                                                               some of the main roads to Black Dog              visit or call 800-
                                                                                               Alley in Easton. He said so many people          356-6795.
     Konsyl Pharmaceuticals’ final product travels down the production line.