- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2001

Mention the faltering economy to most chief executive officers and they frown. Mention it to Capers McDonald, head of BioReliance Corp., a contract service provider to the drug-making industry, and he smiles.
"We are fortunate to be with a real growth industry," he says.
While earnings time has been dark for some companies, BioReliance has posted two record quarters this year, and a rising number of contracts.
Mr. McDonald, in an interview with The Washington Times, attributes this to the stable influx of venture capital to biotech companies.
"Many more investors gave money to companies for trial product development and manufacturing," he says. "And that's where the services [BioReliance provides] are needed."
BioReliance, of Rockville, is a service contractor that manufactures and tests biomedical products, mostly for drug makers, but also for government agencies involved in health issues.
"We see this as a 20-year-long plan," says Mr. McDonald, 49 and originally from Georgetown, S.C. "We're in the early adolescence of biotech. We really haven't seen all that is going to happen."
Two decades may be long for startups, but BioReliance is not a new kid on the block. Founded in 1947, the company has been growing along with the biotech industry, manufacturing the products of big names like Human Genome Sciences and MedImmune and even working with the government on contracts to supply a smallpox vaccine.
"They have a great opportunity despite their small size," says Ken Miller, an analyst with J.P. Morgan who follows BioReliance. "And it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that if they can get their model to work it could be a big winner."
Yet unlike some biotech companies whose stocks have traded at hundreds of dollars, shares of BioReliance have never done better than $15, which was the stock's price when the company went public in 1997.
Mr. Miller attributes the flatness of the stock, which closed at $12.31 Friday on Nasdaq, to the instability of the contract business.
But, Mr. McDonald points out, BioReliance has been profitable for years, and he expects the company to do even better.
For its second quarter ended June 30, BioReliance had sales of $16.33 million, a 17 percent rise over $13.97 million a year ago. Meanwhile, net income grew a dramatic 230 percent to $890,000 (10 cents per diluted share) from 270,000 (3 cents). Diluted shares reflect the value of options, warrants and other securities convertible into common stock.
BioReliance has grown mostly since 1992, when Mr. McDonald was recruited as its head. In five years the company went from being strapped for cash and short of direction to attracting a rising number of clients and income.
But work isn't all that interests Mr. McDonald, who has loved science since childhood.
He earned engineering degrees at Duke University and MIT, and later an MBA from Harvard.
The husband of an attorney and father of a 1F3-years-old son, Mr. McDonald also works with numerous charity, community and youth education groups. He's also a member of the economic advisory committee in Montgomery County and earlier this year became chairman of the Maryland Technology Council.
"Capers is involved in everything," says Henry Bernstein, assistant director of the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development. "We look at him as a significant part of our infrastructure to help enhance the environment for biotech in Maryland and specifically in Montgomery County."
"Every time we've ever asked them to participate with a delegation or a company we're trying to attract and we needed Capers to talk to the CEO to help convince him to come to Montgomery County he himself or staff are always available," Mr. Bernstein says. "We wish we had more [people like] Capers around, I can tell you that."
Last summer, Mr. McDonald was one of several delegates who traveled to Scotland to celebrate the signing of the Maryland-Scotland Biotechnology Alliance.
Part of the trade alliance is to bring Scottish biologists to Maryland, and Mr. McDonald is pushing for that, by hoping to bring two or three such scientists to BioReliance.
"We are interviewing six right now," he says, explaining that the foreign scientists can then stay with BioReliance by working for its subsidiary in Stirling, Scotland, after a two-year stay in the United States.


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