Turning His Passion For Chemistry To A Research Company
By Alyssa Schoeneman, AEL Intern
What do you get if you cross your medicine cabinet with your refrigerator? If you’re scratching your head right now, you might want to phone 1980 Chemistry alumnus Bill Boulanger for some help; he will know that the answer is nutraceuticals.
Still confused? Boulanger’s business, Obiter Research, LLC, began as a hobby company in 2001 with a focus on contract research.
“Unfortunately, the contract research market has all but dried up, so we evolved a new function: process development and light manufacturing of nutraceuticals,” Boulanger said.
The term “nutraceutical” combines the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical”. A nutraceutical is a food or food product that provides health and medical benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease; dietary supplements, genetically engineered foods and some cereals are examples of nutraceuticals that are widely consumed on a daily basis.
Obiter Research, LLC. also has its own internal research program.
“The most notable internal research we are conducting is centered on 18MC,” Boulanger said. “18MC is a drug that was discovered ten years ago; it cures methamphetamine, heroin or nicotine addiction in a single dose. We are working out a practical method of making it on large scale.”
Boulanger says that he loves doing the chemistry involved in his work, and that being challenged by new projects keeps things fresh.
“The part I hate is management,” he continued. “Having to deal with personal interactions, lazy workers, losses due to carelessness, substantial equipment breakage and all of the nitty-gritty of daily management is a hard grind.”
Boulanger also worries about the financial sustainability of his company over time; he dreams to one day have the funds to replace himself as CEO.
But CEO isn’t his only job.
“Besides currently running the company, I also manufacture needed equipment and I frequently step in to take on faltering projects that less experienced people can’t do,” Boulanger said.
Not to be underestimated, he added, “I am also the chief bottle washer.”
Much like their boss, Obiter’s employees are also constantly juggling roles. The company employs three cadres of chemists who specialize in either small-scale, manufacturing or 18MC manufacture, and each cadre has one hands-on leader.
“We also have a business manager, his secretary, a Human resources/shipping person, a Systems Op's/maintenance person, and my wife as Vice President,” Boulanger explained. “[My wife] volunteers for such tasks as orders fulfillment, inventory and a host of other vital functions.”
Boulanger stressed that his wife’s employment is only temporary until profits become more fruitful.
If one is looking to start a company with the idea of making money, the preferable characteristics are low overhead, steady stream of many customers who desperately want what you have, a fabulous margin and the ability to operate anywhere, he explained.
“Money for the start-up is a big thing,” Boulanger said. “I can't emphasize too much how important it is to be ultra conservative in spending what you drum up or earn…whatever you think your expenses will be, triple them…and be prepared for a lot of unexpected costs by having a nest egg in a safe place. My company was saved several times by this policy.”
Though he pours a lot into his company, Boulanger keeps his life balanced by doing other things he enjoys as well.
“I am a maker of things,” he said. “Over the years I have built seven telescopes, two short-wave radios, five radio-controlled airplanes, six violins and one cello.”
Boulanger is also a machinist and has numerous other hobbies, including glass-blowing and wild mushroom hunting.
“In short,” he said, “I drive my wife nuts.”
But he couldn’t be happier.
Learn more about Obiter Research, LLC. online at obires.com.