“There are 10-15 powerhouse players within our industry in this world, and we’re in the top 5. In the United States specifically, it’s just us. We have no other competitors in our home nation because we are the only ones who do what we do.”
Beaming with pride, Hiroshi Nakayama, President, and COO of Freund-Vector Corporation, shares how the company in Marion, Iowa is leading the world in innovation and customization for pharmaceutical processing equipment. Freund-Vector is not only a powerhouse known around the globe but has been an important staple in the community for the last 50 years.
Freund-Vector, previously named Vector Corporation, began operations in 1972 as an industrial engineer company focusing on industrial presses that were sold across multiple different industries and government entities. In the late 1980’s, Vector’s market focus switched from industrial powder applications (such as munitions and powdered metals) to the management of pharmaceutical grade powders and processes. The 1990’s brought another change to the business as Freund (Tokyo, Japan), purchased Vector, which propelled them into the powerhouse status they see today.
Freund-Vector Corporation designs, manufactures, and markets equipment and services for the pharmaceutical, nutritional, and food industries. Their equipment processes the powders, particles, beads, pellets, tablets, and other solid materials for those markets. From their past history, they also work with numerous industries outside pharma, such as automotive, renewable energy, and many more. Freund-Vector has made numerous innovations within the pharmaceutical market and is considered a pharmaceutical processing expert around the world and that innovation was born right here in the Marion community. Consistently tweaking and adjusting as the pharmaceutical market grows has been an important ingredient to the company’s success. Greg Smith, Vice President of Global Sales, and Laboratories at Freund-Vector Corporation, stated, “One of our systems uses a spinning motion that coats the granular powder evenly, consistently, and thinly. This technique enhances consistent drug absorption in your system over time. Instead of taking the medication three times a day, you can take it once or twice, which drastically helps our customers and their patients to get consistent medication.“
Freund-Vector’s customers and patients that are benefiting from their technology are found all over the world. From China to Indonesia, to Turkey and Brazil, their incredible products can be found in 6 of the 7 continents. “2/3 of our systems are sold outside of the United States.” Smith said. “We are the only company that offers such a unique and specialized catalog of products. We customize everything for each client to provide top notch value and added services.”
While their footprint spans across the globe, many of Freund-Vector’s suppliers can be found right here in our backyard. The manufacturer makes it a priority to support the local community by purchasing materials from companies located in the Hawkeye state. Jim Spencer, Vice President of Engineering & Manufacturing at Freund-Vector, said, “We can customize our machines by using specific parts from Van Meter, DAD Manufacturing, Master Tool, Sadler Machine, Barnes Manufacturing, Iowa Fluid Power, and many others. Having these local vendors available in our community has been a huge asset to our company.”
While supporting local has been a huge asset to the company, Freund-Vector offers another asset to their customers. Clients from all over the world are offered a unique experience by touring the Marion office for in-person exposure to their products prior to the customization process beginning. This makes each sale a personal journey as clients from all over the world get to experience their Marion home and where the magic of creating their products takes place. Spencer added “Our goal is to get the customer into our laboratory. They will hop on a plane from Brazil to Marion, IA, for example, and we’ll work with them to develop a process on our equipment. Once the process is developed, they’re going to buy our machine.”
The sales cycle doesn’t end with the purchase of equipment. Freund-Vector oversees the entire process from creation of the first parts to installation to qualifying the process according to FDA standards. Nakayama stated, “On top of our global patents, we have global networks. The branch in Milan is our European hub and we have another one in Brazil. Having a small network of service people around the globe has helped us build this strong customer relationship. We make sure the machines are set up correctly and that the customers are trained on how to use them.” Smith added, “We can’t take these advanced machines out of a box, and they start working with the flip of a switch. We must show the customer how to properly use it once the installation is complete.”
Prioritizing high-quality customer service has been instrumental to the longevity of Freund-Vector. “We have the ability to not only attract good people, but keep good people,” said Spencer. “We have around 48 people in the office who have been here for more than 10 years and a handful of those who have been here for 40 and 45 years. The Cedar Rapids metro has historically been a rich place for great talent and due to the current work climate, we are putting more attention at being creative with recruitment to keep our workforce strong”.
While the past two years have been challenging for many businesses around the world, 2021 was a record-breaking year for Freund-Vector Corporation. They are a leader in the pharmaceutical global marketplace and have established themselves as an innovative company with unique solutions that draw in global clients. This reputation has not only created record-breaking years in sales, but a dedicated workforce, high-quality products, and specialized processes all in which make the future of Freund-Vector look immensely bright and successful. From Marion to around the world, we are proud to have this global leader call the metro area home for the last 50 years.