Mark Butler is the president and managing director of the Americas at IPS—Integrated Project Services, LLC. With offices around the world, IPS is a global, full-service engineering and design firm that specializes in complex, cutting-edge projects in highly regulated industries sectors such as pharmaceuticals, energy, biotechnology, chemicals, food and beverage, and mission critical facilities. The company has earned worldwide recognition and honors, including ISPE Facility of the Year for six years, as well as inclusion on the Zweig White Hot Firms List (2015), the Inc. 500/5000 List of the Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America (2014), and the Engineering News-Record’s Top 225 International Design Firms and Top 500 Design Firms.
EDWIN WARFIELD: How did you career at IPS begin?
MARK BUTLER: My career at IPS began by starting the New Jersey office. As a mechanical engineer, I was involved in a lot of pharmaceutical projects and design. IPS was looking for someone to start the New Jersey office, so I joined at that time. We were about maybe 50–60 people—small company. The company was founded in 1989, and it was really founded as a disrupter to the conventional architecture engineering and construction industry: to be able to bring integrated project delivery and solve some of the problems that the pharma industry was facing with that fragmented supply chain.
At that time, IPS was more of a franchise model. We would look in different regions, we would look for people who understood the business, and we started offices, so I started the New Jersey office. I continued to grow that office until about 2004, when we were designing a large project—about an $800 million project for Pfizer in Morris Plains—and Pfizer asked me to come on board and be the program manager and make sure that the design and ultimately the startup and operation in that facility was successful. Like any big pharma company, shortly thereafter we transformed that business and sold off the consumer healthcare business to J&J. And so my role at Pfizer became a little different and they wanted me to go around and actually start scaling down and shuttering manufacturing plants, because at that time they had more manufacturing capacity than they needed and they were looking at a steep patent cliff.
In talking with my friends at IPS again, they asked me to come back and join the organization. We were going to do a transformation and buy the company from the founders. So, in 2007, I re-joined IPS and we did just that. We acquired the firm from the founders. We were about 160 people with maybe four offices in the US. And in the last ten years, we set our course to be a global pharma leader in providing EPCM services worldwide, and we’re pretty proud of the fact that today we have 1,100 people in 19 offices and 9 countries around the world, and we are continuing to grow this business.
Q. What does it mean for IPS to be a global platform and a global provider?
A. Well, for us, it’s pretty important. Our competitors in this marketplace look at more localized services, and you tend to be limited in the skill set you can provide if you’re only looking at local services throughout the world. What we’ve done a really good job of is to attract subject matter experts who understand manufacturing and know how to make products, and to be able to leverage them across a global platform. What that means is if we have a project in India or a project in China, Ireland, or Brazil, we can use our subject matter experts, deploy them—if it’s an aseptic project, or biologics project, or a solid dosage project—but then have the local team localize the documents and be able to understand the codes and the culture in that place. This global platform allows us to flow to work. We like to use that term, where we can provide the best expertise in the industry anywhere in the world.
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