Leland, NC | Ray Ryan, CEO & Steve Janz, VP, Marketing & Business Development
Small businesses, including Flow Sciences, talk about why Congress’s inaction on Ex-Im is harming their ability to grow and hire.
The following profile was originally published in the SBTDC’s 2009-2010 Annual Report.
Flow Sciences, Inc. (FSI) designs and manufactures containment solutions for laboratories and production facilities where toxic powders, fluids or gases require safe handling. Ray Ryan, CEO, started the company in 1987 on his dining room table. While working in Research Triangle Park testing safety equipment, he was approached by a researcher who had a problem – the fume hoods in his laboratories did not meet his needs. The researcher challenged Ray to create something that would work and he met the challenge. In 1994, FSI pioneered Vented Balance Safety Enclosures (VBSE™) introducing a first independent fan exhaust system to isolate vibrations for balance accuracy. Ray was soon receiving calls from large pharmaceutical companies just from word-of-mouth. Swiftly becoming a leader in laboratory safety, FSI continued innovative engineering design by introducing integrated fan exhausts, waste chutes and lateral flow filtration to the powder containment industry.
In 1996, FSI came to the SBTDC for help to further define and expand its manufacturing business. Warren Gulko, Leslie Langer and Jim Howell of the SBTDC staff facilitated a strategic planning retreat for the business. SBTDC business counselor Jim Howell has been instrumental in the progression of the business with review of business plans, cost/profit analyses, and introduction to several key people throughout the state and the country.
Over the ensuing years, Jim and Flow Sciences’ VP of Marketing and Business Development, Steve Janz, have worked closely with three student teams from the UNCW Cameron School of Business’ MBA Learning Alliance Program. The teams work along with FSI for over 15 months to deliver projects which include market environmental analyses and financial growth and profit strategy.
Steve gave direction to the MBA teams along the way to ensure the projects have real-world application. “The UNCW MBA teams and undergraduate interns work hard with Flow Sciences to produce great results. From viable industry analysis to tangible marketing programs, their deliverables have improved our company and increased the students’ future job prospects.“
Since working with the SBTDC, Flow Science’s sales and profits have grown steadily, propelling them to multi-million dollar sales. Several UNCW alumni from both graduate and undergraduate programs are employed by FSI and work among its talented family-oriented atmosphere.
One of Flow Science’s greatest achievements was the 2009 US Department of Commerce’s Export Achievement Award presented by Congressman Mike McIntyre for its success in generating export sales internationally in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
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The SBTDC have been incredibly helpful in supporting our decision making process, in determining how we can optimize our procedures economically. They have reviewed our marketing, our accounting systems, recommended new approaches and highlighted areas for development.
We increased our revenues by over 550% in four months, we have tripled the number of direct labor employees and added three new engineers to our staff.
Goat Lady Dairy
By 2015, they had made it. The business was profitable enough to put the dairy up for sale. There was interest from many prospective buyers, but eventually, they chose to sell to long-time employees Bobby and Carrie Routh Bradds in May, 2017. Now Steve is technically retired, though he is still invested through owner financing and helps with sales and marketing. Steve says he cannot overemphasize the role that Andy and the SBTDC played in getting to this point. “I think we would have had just to stop and then all those jobs and everything we built would have been lost. It was crucial to our success.”