Ann Black, Ph.D. is the CEO and Founder of ImmunoReagents, a worldwide manufacturer of over 2,000 quality polyclonal antibodies used in research and in vitro diagnostics. Since her business’s beginning in 2005, she has worked with the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) at NC State University to get her business started and growing. Ann had over 30 years of experience as a scientist in the biotechnology industry, but this was her first time to start a new business. She sought business resources to be sure she started out on the right path. Located at the NC State University Technology Incubator, she first came to the SBTDC seeking assistance with developing an executive summary and business plan to help obtain startup funds. The SBTDC at NCSU helped Ann with financial analysis and negotiations with the bank for financing and she was successful in obtaining the necessary loan.
In recent years, Ann has worked with Alex Viva, an SBTDC International Business Development (IBD) Counselor, to expand ImmunoReagents’ sales throughout the world. Alex has helped Ann develop an export strategy, understand international shipping logistics, create a pricing strategy, identify financing options, and negotiate global alliance partnerships. In addition to IBD support, Alex coordinated help with supply chain research and connections to develop and manufacture specialty kits locally.
The SBTDC procured what Ann calls “invaluable” professional and graduate business students to assist the business with special projects. A law student from a local university helped decipher and add anticorruption law language into distribution agreements and developed ImmunoReagent’s exporting policies and employee confidentiality statements. A graduate business marketing student is currently assisting to prepare a marketing plan for a global sales meeting in Germany. She hopes to work with the SBTDC to procure a student with a focus on human resources to help with their staffing policy and procedure development.
Today, ImmunoReagents continues to grow their business. It has grown from 17 products, 1 full-time and 1 part-time employee, and $20,000 in annual sales in 2006 to over 2,000 products, 11 full-time employees (many of them interned and are graduates of NCSU), and over $1 million in annual sales due to increased export sales today. They plan to add an additional two full-time employees in 2014. The business has distributors in over 20 countries, including Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom. With assistance from the SBTDC’s International Business Development team, they plan to expand sales in more countries and relocate to a larger space thanks to Alex connecting Ann with Tom White of NCSU Economic Development Partnership to find a larger space for their expected growth.
In 2013, ImmunoReagents was named the North Carolina Exporter of the Year during International Business Month by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). They also received the 2013 Life Technologies Biology Supplier of the Year Award.
Ann plans to continue working with the SBTDC to form strategic alliances and make their business better. “ImmunoReagents strategic alliances with the SBTDC and the connections with NC Department of Commerce, SBA, and NC State University have given me a sounding board when I have to make important decisions related to ImmunoReagents.”
Ann’s “International Team” were on hand to congratulate her when
ImmunoReagents received the 2013 Small Business Export of the Year Award
(L to R: Briles Johnson – Women's Business Center, Ann Black – CEO ImmunoReagents, Alex Viva – International Business Development SBTDC, John Loyack – NC Commerce – International Trade Division . Not pictured – Shirreef Loza of US Commercial Service)