A female founder, a heady growth trajectory
From the outset, RIPAC-LABOR was able to perfect this process and grow its customer base. “We had a great team of scientists from the beginning. The challenge was just to turn these out-and-out scientists into people who had an entrepreneur mentality”, Köhler-Repp told us back in 2020. She managed to build RIPAC-LABOR’s business out of nothing and make it succeed. Its initial focus on bacterial pathogens soon morphed into one also covering production of herd-specific vaccines from viruses. An expansion into veterinary diagnostics was matched by new processes and a pathogen bank that ended up covering 45,000 strains. These dizzying successes whetted the company’s appetite for partnering with others. Dagmar Köhler-Repp took the strategic step in 2017 of selling a 65% stake to Dopharma International BV in order to offer RIPAC-LABOR’s services more broadly across the European market.
Changing leadership, building a Europe-wide manufacturer
In the wake of this, the company embarked in a brand-new direction. This culminated in Köhler-Repp and Dopharma agreeing that the latter would acquire the firm’s remaining equity in 2021. There were changes at the top too: Heiko Rüdiger had already been in charge since late 2020. An experienced pharmaceutical manager, the veterinarily-trained Rüdiger had run a vaccine producer’s international operations for years and developed a speciality in animal health. His plans for RIPAC-LABOR are clear: building on its success with a stronger international position, optimized quality management, and responsiveness to current challenges. Rüdiger plans to take further what Ms. Köhler-Repp put in place: “I’ve got a lot of respect for what she has built here. RIPAC-LABOR really owes a lot to her, and we want to build on the great things she’s done and take it to the next level through integration with the Dopharma Group and serving the European market.”
What the future has in store
Ambitious plans – after all, RIPAC-LABOR has had nearly 19 successful years on the market already. Heiko Rüdiger sees the main opportunities as arising from joining a strong stable of businesses: “with its strong international focus, Dopharma has done well on the European market. That is a particular advantage for us given the fact there are now European rules in place for herd-specific vaccines since this year – before there used to be only country-specific ones. That means we can now access new growth markets. And being part of a group means we’ve already got the right contacts in order to do that.”
Born in Brandenburg state, of which Potsdam is the capital, Heiko Rüdiger worked in Dessau for nearly two decades. He sees a second focus in the shape of a new quality management structure. “The new herd-specific vaccine regulations set out stringent demands in terms of their production facilities – what’s known as Good Manufacturing Practice. The new law has a very direct bearing on what we do, so we have to put things in place.” He plans another expansion of the quality management department, which numbered 4 staff as of April 2022, and greater specialization for its staff. “Cross-cutting responsibilities make sense when you’re a small company. That’s why we used to have, say, people who were doing both manufacturing and diagnostics. But now we’re aiming for growth and compliance with these quality regulations, we can’t do that any more. We need people specializing in their roles.”