During Lab Innovations 2021, AZoNetwork caught up with North UK Sales Manager, James Lyons from GPE Scientific for a quick chat about the products they were exhibiting and also the challenges they had faced over the last 12-months.
GPE Scientific was established in 1962 as a leading distributor and manufacturer of laboratory equipment, glass blowing products and specialised glass components for the industrial, laboratory and research markets. Based in Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, GPE has over 50 years of experience in the manufacturing of precision glass materials for industry, laboratory and research companies.
What brings you to Lab Innovations today?
It's a bit of a mix. We are here to see our manufacturers for whom we distribute, to catch up with other people in the industry, and to see existing and prospective new customers. There have of course been a lot of changes to the industry in the last couple of years so although we have previously attended Lab Innovations, we were interested to see how those changes would affect the products people had, the people attending the show in terms of their job roles and also the amount of footfall.
What are you exhibiting at the event?
We've got a few niche bits of equipment. There's the benchtop NMR spectrometer, which GPE Scientific is the exclusive supplier for in the UK and Ireland. These machines can be absolutely massive, but this one is a tiny little unit that's for use in laboratories, academia and industry, to analyze chemicals.
GPE Scientific Equipment Range
Video Credit: AZoNetwork / GPE Scientific
We also have 20 liter rotary evaporators, custom fume hoods for scale up chemistry and pilot plants, as well as things like air sensitive glassware and gas generators. So quite a broad spectrum.
Photo Credit: AZoNetwork / GPE Scientific
Who are your customers?
We're working largely with Pharma APIs, oil and gas, academia, polymer chemistry, biochemistry, COVID testing. To be honest, our remit is that we can walk into a room and turn it into a lab. When you think about what goes into a typical laboratory, from a small R&D type lab, all the way to a big pilot lab, we pretty much cover it all. You’ll see a broad range of products here today.
...we walk into a room and turn it into a lab.
What have been the common discussion points at the event today?
Predominantly how the industry has changed over the last couple of years. A lot of people have told us that they’ve had record breaking years and so the target for next year is 10% on top of that. But for a lot of people, you'll see a dip this year. We expect that won't be the case for us because we are quite broad through different industries.
Custom fumehoods - Photo Credit: AZoNetwork / GPE Scientific
And so where our focus has been largely on COVID related projects this year, we are seeing a lot of changes in the fermentation industry, biopharma, and other rapidly growing industries. This means we are getting different types of projects coming through in these industries and perhaps less so in academia where universities may still not be back to what they would consider normal for teaching labs and research.
What have been your main challenges over the last 12-months?
Not being able to go into certain places that have COVID restrictions, such as when you need to go in and spec up a lab or large project. It's been very difficult. For some meetings, it's all well and good having a meeting over Teams. Sometimes that's easier. For example: the 7 hour round trip to have a 10 minute chat that's just a follow up on a meeting you've already had. But if you are trying to install a reactor or spec up a prospective lab, then that's been far more difficult.
What about the next 12-months?
I think it's hard to predict really, because we don't know how regulation will change. There could be more lockdowns or it could be treated like it’s a common cold meaning we’d go back to normal. You also can't really predict from other countries either because everybody's doing everything differently.
But from our perspective, I don't see there being anything other than more growth. We have a lot more products personally in our portfolio than we've ever had before. And every industry seems to be going in, what we would consider to be, the right direction. So I think; more growth, more business, and more work to do.