Covance is a goliath of a company, both in the Greater Philadelphia region and worldwide. Headquartered in Princeton, NJ, and with an office in Conshohocken, Pa., Covance is one of the region's leading life science companies. Its Greater Philadelphia location boasts 1,100 employees and $2.9 billion in market capitalization. Globally it has annual revenues greater than $1.3 billion, operations in more than 20 countries, and more than 8,400 employees, making it one of the world's largest and most comprehensive drug development services companies and contract research organizations.
Luis Gutierrez, Jr., president of Covance Commercialization Services, says, "Covance works behind the scenes to demonstrate the safety, the effectiveness, and the cost-effectiveness of a pharmaceutical product at all stages of its development."
In July 2007 the firm reported a second-quarter increase in net revenue growth of 13.7%, and an increase in early-development net revenue growth of 22.7%. "We've been growing in revenue at 10 to 15 percent per year," Gutierrez says, "and we've roughly tripled in the past 10 years."
Gutierrez attributes his company's growth to the expanding market for healthcare products. "The population, not only of the US but of most Western countries, is aging, and as we age, we need more medicine," he says. "The overall demand for pharmaceutical products is going up dramatically - more rapidly than traditional pharmaceutical and biotech companies can handle with in-house capacities. Companies such as Covance have demonstrated that these firms can contract out development and retain the commercial engine for selling products once they are approved."
The Greater Philadelphia location is advantageous for Covance. Gutierrez points out that Philadelphia has a high concentration of medical and allied health professional schools, making it one of what he calls "the feeders of medical talent" to the rest of the country. "This is where you come to find great talent in biomedical research," he says. "And for customer-facing functions and proximity to customers in this business, you have to be here."
Beyond their professional expertise, Gutierrez sees the region's workforce as "very committed" and a "mission-oriented group of people." He says, "This is the kind of workforce and the kind of citizens and taxpayers any community would just love to have. There are great people here."
What of the city itself? Gutierrez acknowledges the limitations of living in a big city. "Like any other built-up area, it's a city that has grown. The suburbs get bigger and go further out," he says. "As an employer, we often hear, 'My commute is not what I'd like it to be.' This isn't Philadelphia-specific. It's just that success breeds crowding."