Pharmaceutical production company looks to expand locally, internationally
Vireo Resources opened a new building in Plattsmouth fewer than three months ago, but has already made strides in the world of pharmaceuticals. The company focuses its energy on alternative pain relievers and muscle-building supplements for athletes.
President Mark Faulkner said he became interested in chemical blending and legal performance enhancement after working for Aegis Labs. Vireo’s newest building, which opened in September, will accommodate a 50 percent increase in workforce over the next six to three months, he said.
“Vireo began working with researchers for the University of Nebraska Medical Center to be able to scale up and produce the technology at a full-scale manufacturing mode,” Faulkner said. “We spent the last 10 years working on various products and projects associated with these areas of human dietary supplements to help everything from strength, endurance, recovery and also pain and inflammation from working out hard.”
Vireo and UNMC teamed up to license Con-cret, an improved and more biologically available form of Creatine, used to help weight lifters build muscle. Michael Dixon, director of UNeMed Corp., said Con-cret is a highly effective way to consume Creatine.
“Instead of taking large doses and not getting a lot, they could take smaller doses and get more effect,” Dixon said.
The second Vireo product licensed by UNMC is an amino active called Alpha-Gee. Available in both a pill and a cream for localized relief, Alpha-Gee is a natural pain relief medication similar to Ibuprofen.
Faulkner said it’s healthier than Ibuprofen because it doesn’t have the toxic side effects that tear up liver, kidney and stomach tissue. Dixon said the cream is useful for athletes and manual laborers.
“The topical is fantastic,” Dixon said. “People running marathons or painting the house have reported that it’s great to put on an inflamed muscle that’s been bothering them. It’s different from Bengay, which tends to mask pain with a cold feeling. This actually reduces inflammation and helps pain because of that.”
In addition to experiencing success in the United States, Faulkner has begun looking into business opportunities in China. He’s working with a biomedical firm in Beijing, and said Chinese people trust American brands.
“They like the quality control we put in place,” Faulkner said. “Chinese people who already have a deeply traditional culture of herbal medicines would respond well to a non-pharmaceutical drug such as amino actives.”
Faulkner has only experienced success through hard work and persistence. After graduating with a physics degree from the University of Dallas, he worked for Abbott Labs. But with such an entrepreneurial spirit, he quickly made something of his own.
“When I left the corporate world of Abbott, which I enjoyed, I could tell that I wanted to be in something leaner, smaller and very developmental in terms of creatively working on products and projects,” Faulkner said. “And so, when the opportunity to start a business came along, I quickly realized I liked starting something with five people, as opposed to 50,000, and then growing it from there.”
Because Vireo is still expanding, Faulker said it’s beneficial to work with UNMC. The campus has the firepower, staff depth and payroll to develop research, Faulkner said. Vireo employees have the opportunity to form partnerships with university employees and explore cutting-edge technologies.
Like Vireo, UNMC is also seeing the benefits of licensed technology.
“If not only provides Nebraskans access to products, but also provides good, well-paying jobs that help our economy,” Dixon said. “It also helps us generate a royalty back to the university that we can invest in more research.”
Faulkner said Vireo will probably outgrow the Plattsmouth complex in the next two to three years and plans to add another plant then. He said the company has a number of projects that it plans to develop and release in the next three to five years.
Working on more than one project is important for a number of reasons, Faulkner said. Entrepreneurs must make sure all their eggs aren’t in one basket. Don’t let other projects distract you from the one that’s seeing success, but don’t let them fall to the wayside either, he said.
Finally, Faulkner recommends that entrepreneurs don’t fear risk and have the ability to make solid decisions.
“You have to be willing to shoulder the risk and not fear it and lay awake at night thinking of it,” Faulkner said. “But at the same time, you have risk because of the options that you have. You have to be very careful about the options and opportunities that you choose to take advantage of because you will always have more opportunities then you have either time or money.”