- March 18, 2010
ENTREPRENEURS TO WATCH: TAMPA BAY
Mihir Taneja, 33, is chief executive officer with GeoPharma, a Largo pharmaceutical and health care products company.
He started GeoPharma out of college, with five employees in 1995 in Brandon.
GeoPharma now employs nearly 300 people in Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Texas in office, warehouse, manufacturing and lab facilities.
Mihir Taneja (pronounced: My-er Tan-asia) sees himself as just one of the team at GeoPharma, which is trying to take a leap into hyper-growth with new and historic health-care products.
Taneja has transformed the company from being a contract manufacturer to becoming a generic drug company. It still manufactures products for more than 100 clients.
"I'm also the head window washer," Taneja jokes. "We all pitch in here to get the job done."
GeoPharma participates in three markets: Specialty pharma, manufacturing and distribution. Specialty pharma concentrates on generic drugs for people and animals and the development of medical devices used by oncologists and other medical professionals. The manufacturing and distribution divisions, manufacture, package and distribute generic drugs, cosmetics and functional food products for companies worldwide.
GeoPharma hopes its latest product - a lower-cost, early-stage ovarian cancer detection device developed by researchers at the University of South Florida - will be the breakthrough development that will propel international growth.
Besides ovarian, two other parts of the company are making news this year: a new generic drug manufacturing division with at least a dozen drugs in development and an existing and growing diet and nutrition pharmaceuticals division, with customers such as Wal-Mart, Kmart and Walgreens.
A college finance major originally from India, Taneja is the business strategist for GeoPharma. He founded the company with a manufacturing plant in 1995 in Brandon, just east of Tampa, marrying his business skills with the know-how of researchers.
GeoPharma made products for other companies who sold their nutrition products through stores such as GNC. In 1999, GeoPharma moved to larger quarters in Pinellas County after it bought a plant in Largo. It went public in 2000.
Its niche products began with antibiotics, which have a relatively large market and can be sold in volume. It kept working on distribution.
Until now, GeoPharma mainly made mainly diet and nutrition supplements in capsules, creams and gels and did a lot of contract manufacturing - making products for other drug companies. Making its own products means higher profit margins. It has a headquarters and production facility in Largo and a plant in Baltimore.
The key to much of this is that GeoPharma has invested almost $14 million of working capital in the past four years into research and development to prepare for making more of its own, branded products. With FDA approval nearing on different products, the company is optimistic. One of its own branded products it makes is the hoodia weight control pill, Dex L10.
Being an entrepreneur helps Taneja take advantage of opportunities. There is less bureaucracy. That's important when pursuing the ovarian-cancer detection device.
"It's about being able to allocate resources," Taneja says. "The key behind it is being able to seize the moment and bring it to market as soon as possible."
While it sees all of its business units growing, the company has invested a lot into its pharmaceuticals division and expects rapid growth when it gets government approvals for products.
"We could see potentially 500% to 600% growth there in the next two years," Taneja says.
BY THE NUMBERS
Year Revenues % Chg.
2005 $28 million -
2006 $49.8 million 78%
2007 $59.8 million 20%
Three-year ave. rate 49%