Xiogenix, headquartered in Muskego, is one of the innovative biotech companies that are part of Breakthru Family of Companies owned by Jerry Jendusa. Founded in 1979 as a steel rule die shop in Milwaukee, the company pivoted its focus to precision dies for soft tissue, automation equipment, and most recently equipment for the cell and gene therapy industry.
Rachel Bahr, who worked with Jendusa at EMTEQ for over a decade, became president of Xiogenix this past January.
MKEStartup.News recently spoke with Bahr about Xiogenix and the company’s plans to aid in the commercialization of cell therapy treatments in the field of regenerative treatments.
MSUN: How did you come to lead Xiogenix?
BAHR: I’ve always looked to work for custom manufacturing companies who specialize in developing customer solutions for niche applications. My passion is working for privately held, high-growth, high-culture companies. That’s my profile. I’ve tried a few other things, and that’s where my sweet spot lies.
I am honored that Jerry brought me into this business as he knows I am able to lead people to accomplish great things, and I am very excited about that.
MSUN: Who are Xiogenix employees?
BAHR: We have many young professionals here; almost all of our employees are between 21 and 32 and around 40% of our employees are engineers or in a technical role. There is so much talent here, it’s almost intimidating, but it’s very exciting.
MSUN: What is the culture like at Xiogenix?
BAHR: This business is not a great culture for everyone. This is going to be a culture for people who are open to being challenged, and open to receiving feedback in the spirit of continuous improvement. It’s a culture where we’re going to do things in an unorthodox way and be really comfortable with that.
What we are set out to accomplish is hard and we want people that are up for the challenge. It’s going to be hard but also very rewarding… We’re doing things that I would say are going to develop not only the company but also the individuals that are here. My hope is that our employees will speak about this experience in the future as something that grew them.
This is a culture of people embracing, learning about themselves, learning about each other, and figuring out how everybody fits and how we can utilize talent.
It’s a very flat organization. I would say, at this point, people may or may not know who their manager is, and there are only 24 people. That’s because we work for the customer, and we work for the mission.
MSUN: Is it difficult to find talent?
BAHR: Not really, because we’ve really tapped into the universities as well as referrals. We believe in finding the best interns who fit our culture. We give them real projects that matter, not busy work. We have several interns that are top engineers at this point, and there, maybe, 25 years old.
I think the key to that is finding young talent that has an interest, but also giving them the opportunity to do work that matters.
MSUN: What does Xiogenix do?
BAHR: Xiogenix focuses on creating solutions for optimizing the Tissue Banking and Cell & Gene Therapy Industries by automating manual processes for downstream processing. We collaborate with leading companies to assess current market needs and requirements to create solutions to help drive advances in regenerative medicine.
We’re investing most of our development in cell and gene therapy automated processes equipment for the industry. We also service and innovate in tissue banking, which is all part of regenerative medicine.
MSUN: What is Xiogenix working on right now?
BAHR: We have Aries, our product that we’ve been working on for the last year that we are developing in conjunction with customers. We are not waiting until the end and then hoping for the best.
Customers that would really help us vet it and test it along the way. We are producing our first alpha unit this week for the client, and we are looking to go to production next May on this…
We aren’t looking to do something and throw something into the market. It needs to be tested, highly vetted. We’re going to be doing that with our customers, so that everybody’s on the same page with regards to how the equipment works… At the end of the day, there’s a shared fate with customers and with vendors to make sure that we’re doing things responsibly.
I loved that about the industry. Customers are much more willing, and vendors should be much more willing, to be very open and very collaborative about what we’re trying to do together because ultimately, we all have the same mission: to further the mission to bring these therapies to more people to maximize the gift of life.
MSUN: Is Xiogenix considering raising funds to support its growth?
BAHR: We have many developments in the works. We are bootstrapping our development with our legacy products.
We have to focus enough on the existing products and develop new products while making a little profit. How we utilize our resources and finding is critical and the Breakthru Family of companies is very supportive of our growth plans and potential.
We have a grave responsibility to live up to that and to get these products to market to grow.
I believe what we will accomplish is really special. People attempt to lead with their products, but I would say we lead with our people. I believe our talented team will be very successful and we will accomplish big things together. Our story is just getting started.
To learn more about Xiogenix, click here