Exclusive Interview: Al and Alfonse Reflect on a Decade of Ownership

Jun 27, 2024 | Company news

Pine Pharmaceuticals' 10 Year Anniversary | Interview with ownership

In continuing Pine’s 10th anniversary celebration, we asked Alfonse Muto and Alfonse J. Muto, Pharm.D. ten questions about their decade-long ownership journey and Pine’s remarkable evolution. Here’s what they had to share:

1. How does it feel to reflect on a decade of Pine Pharmaceuticals?

Al Jr.: It’s exciting to think about the growth. It was much more than I ever expected, especially the rate of it. I take a lot of pride in what everyone has done. Looking back ten years vs. today, everyone’s contributions to what we’ve built–make me really proud of our team here.

Al Sr.: When I reflect on ten years, there are a lot of different emotions. Obviously, starting out was frightening because there’s always some risk involved in starting a business, let alone within the first ten months the 503B industry was enacted into law. Still, there was a sense of excitement about the initial growth and plans to open a new facility back then. Overall, reflecting on a decade excites me, considering the company’s growth and our ability to help more people.


2. What moment or milestone stands out as you look back on the last decade?

Al Sr.: The move from Colvin to Riverwalk was monumental. Starting out at a 5,000-square-foot facility and now having a 75,000-square-foot facility put us on a different level.

Al Jr.: Agreed. We went from renting a small place, unsure of how the business would go, to being able to build a cGMP facility from the ground up, catapulting us to the next level. That catalyst allowed us to eventually expand this facility and have the space to accommodate more employees, products, and equipment.


3. What advice would you give to yourself ten years ago, knowing what you know now?

Al Sr: Hmmm. Continue finding new ways to improve processes. I think staying ahead of automation trends has been crucial for our growth and efficiency.

Al Jr: Right. If we learned anything in the last ten years, it is that the pharmaceutical industry is constantly evolving, and utilizing automation to advance our processes is crucial for success.


4. How has Pine evolved since 2014?

Al Sr: One of the more noticeable changes is our team’s growth. We started with just five people back in 2014, and we’ve been expanding ever since. This area of growth has significantly contributed to Pine’s evolution.

Al Jr: Exactly– expanding our workforce across various departments gave us the capacity to service more practices nationwide, extend our product offerings, improve processes, and more


5. What kind of advancements played a part in Pine’s growth and success?

Al Jr:  Some factors that helped take us to the next level were bringing on engineers and having an Engineering department that could handle a lot of the equipment. Thinking back to the last decade, it’s incredible that we now have an in-house lab. Initiating that lab was a significant milestone, and now that we are working towards expanding it, we anticipate it segueing into the next ten years. Yeah, I think being able to do all our things in-house, whether it’s engineering, maintenance, quality control, etc., everything helps us take the next step.


6. Name one of your favorite things about our campus.

Al Jr: Right now, I’d say our in-house lab. As I mentioned before, it’s incredible to have one established in our facility, and with our ongoing expansion, it’s an exciting place to be, haha.


7. What do you think sets Pine apart from other 503B outsourcing facilities?

Al Jr: I think our customer support. We have such an incredible staff that understands each of our partners has unique needs, and they do a phenomenal job at providing 1:1 personalized assistance.

Al Sr: Absolutely! Customers have shared that our Customer Support team is always willing to go the extra mile to ensure their practice is being taken care of.


8. Can you share any memorable experiences from the company’s early days that have had a lasting impact?

Al Jr.: At the time, I was working at the Pharmacy and on the boards of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York and the Pharmacists Association of WNY. So, I was tracking the Drug Quality and Security Act during that time, which ended up getting passed. I remember talking to Al Sr. and saying if we don’t try [503B outsourcing], we will watch Pine Pharmacy customers go to other 503B facilities for their products. Soon after, I chose to pull away and build a team. That’s when Allie came along. We worked in the pharmacy stock area and took that leap. She and I started writing SOPs and working with consultants to get ready to open up the facility. What a time, haha.

Al Sr.: I think that is the most memorable experience. Just to start out and have the foresight to see the potential in this business was huge. Y’know, people will ask: “How have you become successful? What made you successful? I say it’s because we took a risk. You have to be willing to take risks! Think about it: we signed a 10-year lease and had to purchase everything, considering all the unknowns in a newly created industry. That took some risk. 

9. Has your vision for Pine changed in the past ten years?

Al Sr., I like to think that while the industry has changed over the years, our values have remained the same. What do you think, Alfonse?

Al Jr: Once we established Pine Pharmaceuticals, our top priority was supporting health systems nationwide and ensuring we became a trusted partner for quality products. I believe we’ve done a good job upholding that vision thus far, so I don’t see it changing anytime soon.


10. Looking ahead, where would you like to see Pine in the next ten years?

Al Jr.: Looking toward the next ten years, I think our philosophy will be to continue to offer a diverse product portfolio to service different segments of the industry and to be able to scale products within the facility, from smaller manual manufacturing for niche products to automated manufacturing for our staples. Considering that the FDA has just cleared the ability for 503Bs to supply retail pharmacies (503As), we expect to see that area grow over the next ten years as well. 


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