Based in Largo, FL, Ion Labs has seen a rapid transformation in the overall business, said marketing manager Max Timko. In many ways, it’s a completely different company from where it was several years ago.
“In the past five years we have seen such change and growth. We’ve gone from 24 employees to more than 300. We had one powder blender back then; now we have more than 10. We went from having no R&D department to one with 10 employees,” Timko told NutraIngredients-USA.
Demand for liquid capsule capability
The company said a particular driver of that growth has been the demand for the newer capsule technology. Capsule within a capsule delivery mode can be tailored to release ingredients at specifc points in the gut based on the dissolution profiles of the individual capsules. It is particularly suited to combining two dissimilar liquid ingredients in the same format. Handing and filling the capsules in this mode requires special machinery.
“Liquid capsule machines are going to become the future of our business, because many companies are looking for innovation, and that is going to be a big part of the future innovation,” said Ivan IIchev, VP of operations.
To go with the two new liquid lines, Timko said Ion Labs now has eight fully automatic high-speed encapsulation machines and eight high speed tablet presses. The manufacturing footprint now exceeds 150,000 square feet.
Ramping up visibility
Many contract manufacturers prefer to operate at a remove, as these manufacturing agreements are often considered proprietary information. Ion Labs is open about saying that through brand holders its products are on the shelves or for sale in all major channels, including Amazon, Costco, GNC, Target and Walgreens. In addition to supplements, the company also makes pet care products, skin care products and OTC drugs.
Timko said Ion Labs has chosen to operate in a highly visible manner because the company wants to change the conversation around contract manufacturing.
“We want to bring more visibility to contract manufacturing,” Timko said. “We have become one of the biggest contract manufacturers in sports nutrition. We believe we have done that through leadership.
“We want to be transparent. We are not the cheapest, we say that straight out. If a person just wants to create a cheap product and is not interested in its functionality or in any of the backstory about quality, we are not about that,” he said.