Over the coming weeks, The Chamber of Commerce is sitting down with each of the winners from the recent Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, supported by Foster Construction Group, to find out what they did to stand out from the crowd. This week’s ’Winners’ Insights’ is with Ryan Marra, CEO at DEC Pharmaceutical, winners of the Service Excellence, International Trade and overall Foster Construction Group Supreme Award.
The Waikato has a long, proud history of being a heavy hitter in the agricultural sector, both nationally and internationally. Despite this, some of the region’s globally renowned companies sometimes fly under the radar without receiving the recognition they deserve. DEC Pharmaceutical is one such homegrown hero, a life science business focusing on human and animal health technologies.
DEC is best-known for its patented CIDR implant, a slow-release implant manufactured for use in animals, specifically cows, sheep and goats, which delivered progesterone hormone to the bloodstream. CIDR effectively allows the farmer to synchronise the fertility cycle for their stock in order to complete artificial insemination on the same day.
The company has recently undergone an internal revolution with a leadership change, resulting in a dramatic cultural shift. CEO Ryan Marra credits DEC’s success at the Awards to changes to the operational structure, with a renewed focus on people and transparency.
“We went through all our systems and processes and evaluated them, ensuring we have an easily defined strategy that everyone is aligned with and can buy into. We’ve made it extraordinarily transparent, so at any point, any employee can check the strategy’s progress, including where every individual in the company is at with their goals, from the CEO to interns. It’s served to motivate our team and increase accountability.”
DEC is driven by perfection. They believe technology that advances human and animal technologies must be made, made better, made perfect. The strategy changes have followed this mission, resulting in a 100 percent DIFOT (deliver in full on time) rate with international customers and a first batch failure rate of 0.003 percent.
Ryan is exceptionally proud of how his team has adapted to the changes in strategy and the results DEC are seeing.
“With the cGMPs (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) in the pharmaceutical industry, there is no opportunity for callbacks or product recalls. What we make deserves nothing less than perfection. Every detail matters, our global clients demand excellence and we settle for no less. Our tightly controlled process ensures that we are doing it once, and we’re doing it right. Our team is a massive reason why we rank number one to Zoetis for contract manufacturing out of 150 global competitors.”
The new strategy focuses on utilising core competencies with the ambitious goal of transitioning into the human space. DEC established a new R&D team to achieve this, prioritising development over research and working with innovators to bring their ideas to life.
“We are just about to put out a funding call. Our animal and human health technology departments will be doing a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style programme to provide funding or mentorship for exciting new healthcare technologies. Whether these are at the early prototype stage or a finalised concept, we want to work with them to ensure quality and scalability by design. This way DEC can partner with innovators and give their technologies the best chance to navigate industry regulations, and get their product off the ground,” said Ryan.
DEC Pharmaceutical’s first time entering the awards was undoubtedly a major success. The opportunity to reflect on their achievements was valuable to Ryan and his team, allowing them to take a step back and evaluate their position and accomplishments.
“We were quite surprised by how much work goes into the application but found the reflection process rewarding, looking back and seeing what we’ve achieved. It can be challenging for a little Kiwi company to blow your own trumpet and put ourselves forward sometimes. We knew we were up against some pretty incredible companies leading their industries globally. I’m so proud of all our past and present employees who have contributed to winning these awards.”
When it comes to living and working in the Waikato, Ryan wouldn’t have it any other way and has some excellent advice for other businesses seeking to grow and develop in the region.
“Waikato people call a spade a spade, we’re loyal to other Waikato businesses, and all want each other to succeed. It’s pretty special. My advice to other businesses in the Waikato is to utilise the resources around you and don’t be afraid to share what you’ve got. Pick your partners well. Sharing your technology with partners helps springboard them quickly, saving them money and decreasing timelines while providing a good pathway forward for both parties. Something you can only do with other partners in the Waikato.”