Aegis Sciences muscles-up for growth in Nashville
By Milt Capps
Nashville-based Aegis Sciences Corp. has been quietly expanding its workforce to meet rising demand for its drug- and chemical-testing services.
In a VNC interview Friday, founder David Black, M.D., said 19-year-old Aegis' ranks have jumped from 40 to 178 employees in the past two years, and he believes the count will "easily" hit 200 this year, before reaching 250 during 2010.
Black (at left) declined to detail the company's current finances, but said Aegis is "growing very rapidly, very nicely and we will exceed our budget for 2009. We're blessed to be in a great place," he added. Earlier published reports have pegged Aegis' projected 2009 revenue at more than $30 million.
Black, 61, recently announced the addition of Bill Frist, M.D. (at right), as a healthcare advisor and Aegis board member. Frist and Black served together at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Black has made clear the duo now sees creating a new strategic alliance with Vanderbilt to be a high priority.
Frist, of course, is the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and is a Nashville-based partner in Cressey & Co., the private investment firm with headquarters in Chicago.
Aegis has continually bootstrapped itself since Black left Vanderbilt in 1990, Black said. Aegis has two facilities, one in MetroCenter and one closer to Nashville International Airport.
Black explained that much of Aegis' recent growth has been spurred by client NASCAR's expansion of drug testing to include random testing of drivers, pit-crew members, officials and others associated with the sport. NASCAR's earlier "reasonable suspicion" program required fewer tests.
In addition to supporting NASCAR, the NCAA, public and private high schools and other sports interests, Aegis provides toxicology services for healthcare; post mortem assessments; crime-scene evidence-gathering; criminal-justice testing; workplace testing; and, food testing, mainly focused on supplements.
Aegis and Black, himself, have recently become more visible in the sports world as a result of periodic splashes in media stemming from Aegis' reporting positive drug-test results on high-profile competitors, including Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez, who recently earned a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball, after using performance-enhancing drugs.