One might expect the CEO of a global separation sciences company to be a chemistry graduate, with in-depth training in analytical chemistry. In fact, Persian-born Fasha Mahjoor, the charismatic CEO of Phenomenex, failed all of the chemistry exams at his English boarding school before going on to acquire a Masters in architecture.
Although his career in architecture began promisingly, the entrepreneur in Fasha was unable to pass up the opportunity presented to him by a friend to start a separation sciences (chromatography) company. Working from his tiny 12x12 foot architectural office, Fasha registered the company name ‘Phenomenex’. He went on to build his company, now known to be a worldwide leader in separations technology, with over 8,000 products, about 800 employees, 16 global companies and 75 international partners, serving over 100 countries worldwide.
As you might expect, these days, Fasha understands a very great deal about chromatography and separation sciences. But his unorthodox beginnings, being raised in Persia, attending a British boarding school and university, and then working and living in the USA, have shaped him as a person and allowed his company to thrive.
A growing empire
Phenomenex started out by importing and selling chromatography columns. However, Fasha quickly realised that in order to produce products to the very highest standards, he couldn’t rely on third-party manufacturers and needed to manufacture his own products. As such, Phenomenex evolved from being a distributor, to becoming a manufacturer and then an innovator, producing game-changing technology that would pave the way for scientific advancement.
As well as expanding the Phenomenex product portfolio, Fasha is involved in a number of other, related scientific fields. In 1997, Phenomenex acquired its sister company, InventX, which manufactures the company’s Zebron GC columns. InventX is based in El Dorado Hills, CA, USA, where a team of GC specialists pride themselves on providing Zebron GC solutions to laboratories. In 2011, Phenomenex purchased a second sister company, now known as Phenova, a leading ISO 17043 accredited provider of proficiency testing (PT) standards and services, quality control standards and certified reference materials.
In 2014, Fasha started a new company, separate from Phenomenex, called Neoteryx. This company is focused on delivering simple, user-friendly microsampling solutions which enable blood collection anytime, anywhere, by anyone thus eliminating the need for typical venipuncture blood draws by a phlebotomist. The Mitra® Microsampler collects a precise volume of blood, typically from a fingerstick, into an absorptive tip and then once dry it can be shipped to a lab by post. This innovative and exciting device opens up the opportunity for convenient, at-home sampling to better serve difficult to reach or extremely busy individuals as well as an improved sampling technology for vulnerable populations with low blood volume or flow. The success of Neoteryx has already resulted in Fasha’s acquisition of a Berlin based company and has sparked negotiations of two additional potential acquisitions based in the Netherlands and USA.
Collaborations with scientists all over the world have helped Phenomenex to continue to grow and innovate. Many of the unique products provided by Phenomenex have been developed as a result of talking to scientists and understanding their specific needs. The Company also works very closely with its customers to provide the highest level of service.
Richard Thomas, Chief Scientific Officer, Precision Diagnostics, says “I feel very strongly about Phenomenex products – the quality of the product, the service, the technical support and the people are what keeps me returning as a happy customer”.
Phenomenex products are helping scientists in environmental testing, food safety and quality, cosmetic science, clinical research, forensics and toxicology and pharmaceutical fields.
Not just a separations company
The legacy of Phenomenex is not just to help advance science, but to engage in numerous philanthropic projects that have helped to support a wide range of charities. Phenomenex provides a supportive environment for charity endeavours by scheduling charity activities during working hours, donating resources and facilities to charity events, and raising money for people in need.
When asked of his proudest working achievement, Fasha says that it is to have created a company which enables scientists to make discoveries that help living creatures, be it animals or humans, to have a better and more productive life.
In fact, although at first, Fasha’s architectural background seems to be at odds with his subsequent career path with Phenomenex and now other scientific companies, his founding in architecture has helped him in all areas of his business life. From business philosophy to product packaging, advertising, design and style; Fasha has built a separations empire that benefits its customers, its employees, the individuals analyzed using its products, and charity organizations all over the world.
That is certainly something to be proud of.
Read The Phenomenex Story Part 2: Leading the Field in Urine Drug Testing – an interview with Richard Thomas, Chief Scientific Officer at Precision Diagnostics, a leading drug detection laboratory.
Related reading: The Secrets Behind the Success of Phenomenex - Tips to the Top