Vitaquest International’s powder engineering facility is now fully operational after six month renovation

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The new facility gives Vitaquest the ability to used fluidized bed technology to granulate, agglomerate, and microencapsulate powder ingredients for its customers.

Exterior of Vitaquest's new Paterson facility. Vitaquest Staff with CEO Patrick Brueggman and Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh at center. Image courtesy of Vitaquest.

Exterior of Vitaquest's new Paterson facility. Vitaquest Staff with CEO Patrick Brueggman and Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh at center. Image courtesy of Vitaquest.

Vitaquest International has officially opened its new powder engineering facility in Paterson, NJ. Vitaquest announced the acquisition of the 26,000 square foot facility from Pharmachem Laboratories (a division of Ashland, Inc.) last October. Since that announcement, the facility has undergone an extensive $3 million renovation.

The new facility allows Vitaquest to provide “application-specific product development, pilot and commercial manufacturing solutions using fluidized bed technology for granulation, agglomeration, microencapsulation and new innovative product creation,” explains the company is a press release. Having access to these capabilities is a huge advantage to Vitaquest whose business is based in powders.

“Every one of our products starts with powder. Everything we do, whether it be a tablet, capsules, or powdered drink, it's all based on [powders],” explains Patrick Brueggman, president and CEO of Vitaquest. “So, we really wanted to become experts on the functionality of the powder because it matters. It matters the way it dissolves. It matters the way it tastes.”

Originally, the plan was to buy equipment that would allow Vitaquest to expand into powder engineering. However, when the former Pharmachem facility went on the market, it provided the opportunity to not only purchase manufacturing space but also the existing equipment. Currently, the facility has one feasibility suite (testing lab) for process and product development and five manufacturing suites for commercial scale production. In total the facility has 5 commercial production suites with 6 fluid bed units and one tumble blender.

“It made so much sense because while we would have purchased one [fluid bed unit] and grew into it slowly, this has allowed us to buy five huge [units], plus the biggest benefit is a whole testing lab too, where you can actually test and scale up. So, our time to mark has shrank significantly,” says Brueggman. “And we buy a lot of agglomerated materials. Probably a third of the stuff Vitaquest purchases has been agglomerated by somebody else. So again, it makes sense for us to protect our customers, to be able to agglomerate powders ourselves too, if we need to. So, if there's a supply chain issue coming out of China where it's agglomerated, we can buy the basic raw materials and agglomerate them ourselves.”

On top of this, adds Brueggman, the new facility really helps Vitaquest to innovate and grow its business.

The ribbon cutting of the new facility was on May 15, 2024. During the ribbon cutting, Paterson’s Mayor Andre Sayegh welcomed Vitaquest’s investment in the facility, which he said stays true to the city’s manufacturing roots and expressed gratitude for the employment of Paterson residents.

The staff is a significant aspect of the facility acquisition as well. Because Vitaquest retained the equipment and manufacturing processes of the facility’s prior owner, the company was also able to retain much of the staff. This is important because of the highly specialized equipment and processes involved.

“You need domain knowledge to use the equipment,” says Brueggman. “Yes, we can train people. But again, it takes longer.”

Brueggman says that at least three quarters of the staff hired at the facility are heritage employees, allowing Vitaquest to really hit the ground running. Brueggman tells Nutritional Outlook that Vitaquest has been seeing a good deal of interest from customers. “Because customers need to innovate in the market, they need to differentiate their products,” he explains. “The way it tastes, the way it dissolves, what they can do, like smaller tablets, are important. We can help do a lot of that.”

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