© CEOCFO Magazine -
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Steve Alexander, Associate Editor
Bud Wayne, Editorial Executive
Christy Rivers -
Valerie Austin -
Chief Executive Officer
GA International Inc.
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – February 10, 2020
CEOCFO: Mr. Ambartsoumian, the first thing I see on the GA International site in big and bold is “Enabling Through Labeling.” What is the focus at GA today?
Mr. Ambartsoumian: I find that labeling is one of the critical parts in the biotechnology and biomedical sectors because the importance of labels is essential for the use of products that are applicable in the industry. That is why we are specialized in making labels for applications like sample storage in extremely cold conditions, such as inside liquid nitrogen, and labels that go on microscope slides, which are typically used for the diagnostics of tumors and for other clinical purposes.
One can imagine how important it would be that the information of the patient or the condition they are being diagnosed for is accurate, making it crucial to maintain the label’s legibility as these labels can be exposed to extreme solvents, like on a microscope slide during the staining process, for example. With a regular label, the information would be completely destroyed or lost in that process. Therefore, we make labels that withstand those conditions, as it is so important that the information remain secure. It is a question of trust, and our clients have trusted our products for over twenty years now.
CEOCFO: Do many of your clients, or does the industry in general, recognize the importance of proper labeling or is it something people take for granted?
Mr. Ambartsoumian: It depends on the client. For example, if the order is place by the purchasing agent, they might realize the importance of it. However, usually the end user, who is placing the order and purchasing directly, understands the value of what they are getting. That is because those in the biopharmaceutical industry appreciate and understand the importance of labeling.
To give you an example, imagine that on the label for a medication, there is a small typo or small dot in the wrong place, which might increase the dosage ten times. Let us imagine that the dot, instead of being after the first digit, is after the second digit. Now you have ten times more dosage! Someone might be hurt badly taking ten times more of a dosage! That is just one example.
There are many other applications where valuable samples are stored inside liquid nitrogen for years; the wrong product is used, the label falls off, and they now do not know what is inside the vials that they stored. And those vials sometimes represent years of work! Therefore, it might sound like it is just a label, but if the label fails, a lot of time, effort, and money can be lost in that process.
CEOCFO: How are you able to take advantage of new technologies to come up with the most effective labels?
Mr. Ambartsoumian: That is a very good question. That is one of our core values, reflected in our research, development, and technical knowledge. We have scientists working in our company that have a lot of experience in the biomedical field. They work in the lab and have PhDs, Masters, and post-
From trade shows and conferences, we keep ourselves up-
We also obtained intellectual properties, like patents and patent applications on new products. That is how we develop new products and have the success that we have in selling our products worldwide.
CEOCFO: Do you have to be on top of the technological changes your customers may take advantage of as well as new processes, new equipment, and new ways that they might be storing things that might affect the labels you are producing?
Mr. Ambartsoumian: Yes. We learn a lot of things from our customers. They often come to us and ask for a very specific product to be made for them, so we specialize in the customization of products tailored to their needs. This concept, which is very rare in our industry, means that we never refuse a client’s request. Our attitude towards clients’ requests is, “Okay, let’s see how we can do this,” and we do everything possible in this process to develop a solution. We consider ourselves a problem-
When clients come to us, they are always asking for new products. It could be a label designed for a new storage condition or an ink that must resist a specific chemical that we’ve never tested before. For example, a client may require exterior storage for ten years, and the label has to withstand direct sunlight for that period of time. There are many possible laboratory conditions, such as someone pulling out vials from liquid nitrogen and they want a label to stick immediately to the frozen surface without thawing. We develop products that can do what the client wants. Therefore, we have to stay on top of the technology to be competitive and gain the trust of our customers on a daily basis.
CEOCFO: Are you primarily working in the biomedical field or are there other industries that you work with as well?
Mr. Ambartsoumian: My background is in veterinary medicine, but I also did a Ph.D. in animal sciences. After completing three post-
CEOCFO: So, your primary focus for the company is life science?
Mr. Ambartsoumian: The primary focus, and probably around ninety percent of our business, is in life sciences. However, we recently started putting effort into the industrial sector. For example, we now have labels for aerospace or for electronics, which require very specific products for high temperatures, friction resistance, and other applications. We have a new website called IndustriTAG, which sells products related to those industries. Still, at this point, I would say that ninety percent of our business comes from life sciences.
CEOCFO: How do you reach out to both current and prospective clients?
Mr. Ambartsoumian: We have many ways to reach clients. When I started the company over twenty years ago, I worked out of my basement, so I started going from lab to lab and giving samples to clients. That was how I started getting clients initially, as I did not have a website at that time. We then built a website, so many customers found us through the site. Later, we were able to publish catalogs and send newsletters and pamphlets to clients. Now, we participate in many trade shows. We have a very well-
We use all possible avenues to connect with clients, in addition to building a very good reputation for quality. Therefore, most often they are the ones reaching out to us, because companies in the life science sector like to deal with a supplier they can trust, then spread the word to other potential clients. We have clients who have been buying every month from us for twenty years. That shows that we are very consistent with regards to the quality and service we provide. We are also an ISO 9001 certified company. Altogether, that is how we reach our clientele.
CEOCFO: Why choose GA International?
Mr. Ambartsoumian: In the life science industry, we are unique with respect to many of the products that we have developed. Although there are other companies that make labels, they are not the same labels, nor are they the same quality as our labels. Though every company is unique in the kinds of the products they provide, mainly because of the combination of many different materials and adhesives, we aim to provide the best solutions.
Clients buy through GA International because we have developed formulations that are unique, optimized for performance, and available only through us. Our clients also trust our products and service. The trust that people have in our company is the main reason they keep coming back. They trust us because of our advanced technical support team and because of our R&D capabilities, which we make available free of charge. If a client needs an answer to their challenge, we can test and provide the necessary information without extra cost to them. These are big advantages that none of our competitors are able to provide.
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“Our attitude towards clients’ requests is, “Okay, let’s see how we can do this,” and we do everything possible in this process to develop a solution. We consider ourselves a problem-