Our pathways are complicated...

This is not something that is very unique as we all have histories we can look back on with fond memories — although, I will be bold to say mine are somewhat specialized. I suspect there are only a few people who have a Biochemica mug in their kitchen cabinet.

BioChemica mug.JPG

A very long time ago I worked for a company called Boehringer Mannheim and it was with this company that I began my career in earnest — it's now a division of Roche, but at the time it was a privately held company that sold big blood analyzers, small diagnostic units for analyzing blood sugar, and had this small group that sold biochemicals into the fledgling Biotechnology marketplace. 

You needed restriction enzymes to cut deoxyribonuclease (DNA) we had them; needed to put the DNA back together with T4 DNA ligase, we had that too; needed Tris(hydroxymethyl) aminomethane, we had it by the kilogram; and yes, we also had gentle proteases to separate your cells. We had it all, high quality products for those researchers who needed them and who were willing to pay our "high quality, high value" prices. Research Biochemicals were not something that came up in regular conversation and we liked it that way because we were a little unique for it. There were four of us, and with the help of our marketing manager, we ran around Canadian universities and fledgling biotech companies selling what we offered — never discounting because our pricing reflected the quality of our products like I said.

We were a premium player after all!

In hindsight, we really had little real idea what we were doing but did it with great flair, enthusiasm, and delivered profits that engaged the support of leadership — we jumped on any and all ideas to sell and we didn't seem to be afraid of anything (which is a big tool in the tool kit when you are young). No one really knew what to do with the five of us but it did seem they were all right with it.

A component of our value proposition was information, and in one instance this information manifested itself in the form of a 4' x 3' Biochemical Pathway Chart — biology is very complicated after all, and we had to get it all down on paper to prove it. The mug in my kitchen cabinet was just another manifestation of our value proposition... get a mug, then get a super sized chart, and then pay list price for high quality biochemicals to help your research along.

Like all things, when success comes your way things change, more people get involved, and new opportunities present themselves — this golden age of my career gave me some solid foundations to build on over the years:

  • High quality does matter and people will pay for it — it's not the easiest sell but value pricing will take you further in the long run.
  • You can do amazing things when you don't know any better.
  • Sales is a satisfying and challenging profession with transferable skills that can't be learned anywhere else — and if you are in sales, always remember to "ssffs".
  • If you are going to get into something, try to get into something that's in the early stages because there is lots of runway for growth.
  • Layers get in the way of speedy communication and decision-making.
  • Being very profitable gets you a lot of consideration.
  • It's only in hindsight that you realize how lucky you were.

I hope whoever recognizes this mug is doing well (and everyone else for that matter).