Company: American Radiolabeled Chemicals Inc.
Year started: 1983
Offices: Vancouver, Canada; Stevenage, UK; Hyderabad, India
Headquarters: St. Louis, MO
Activity: Leading global supplier of radiolabeled and unlabeled chemicals for pharmaceutical and chemical research.
Annual Revenue: Over $10 million
Degree: MS, Chemistry, Delhi University, 1961; MS, Chemical Technology, Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, 1963; PhD, Chemistry, Wayne State University, 1968
Company website: arc-inc.com
“No one, not even my adviser, thought that I would succeed—they were all shocked when I passed my PhD qualifying exam.”
Surendra Gupta first came to the United States from Mumbai, India in 1963 (on a very slow 23-day boat trip) to earn a doctoral degree at Wayne State University on the recommendation of one of his professors at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai. Two key things happened at WSU that would forever change the course of his life: a dissertation topic focusing on carbohydrate chemistry, and meeting the woman who would eventually become his wife.
Surendra got his first industrial job at one of only two radioactive carbohydrate chemical supply companies in the world at the time: New England Nuclear in Boston. Because of his specialization in carbohydrate chemistry, he was hired to supervise seven people, and learned a lot about radioactive chemicals and just how profitable they can be. After six years, DuPont bought the company, and Surendra left for Pathfinder Labs in St. Louis. MO, where he was a group leader involved with R&D, production and marketing. In his first two years with Pathfinder, Surendra grew annual sales volume from $60,000 to $250,000. When the business began suffering financial difficulties in 1983 during an economic downturn, he left to start his own company.
“This year is an important year for me—this year marks the 30-year anniversary of my company and 50 years that I’ve been in the U.S.”
Surendra came from a family of business owners, so he understood the importance of operating on a tight budget. He started American Radiolabeled Chemicals Inc. in 1983 with a $60,000 loan from the Small Business Administration that he paid off within the first year.
Without any advertising or marketing, Surendra convinced customers that the quality of ARC’s chemicals was as good as what they were currently buying, at a quarter of the cost. Word spread rapidly, and so did ARC’s sales volumes. In 1985, he moved his company from downtown St. Louis to a five-acre parcel outside of town where the company has grown to five buildings, 25,000 square feet of office space, 10,000 square feet of production space and 35 employees.
ARC serves customers worldwide, with distributors in 30 countries. The company’s 2013 catalog (the largest in the industry) contains more than 5,000 radiolabeled and unlabeled chemicals for life science research, 75 percent of which are available only through ARC. In addition to catalog items, ARC offers a wide range of custom synthesis services. ARC remains a debt-free, family-owned business.