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.
flooded for the first two months and it
grows for another two months until it is
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 www.konsyl.com or call 800-
Alley in Easton. He said so many people 356-6795.
Konsyl Pharmaceuticals’ final product travels down the production line.