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New ABI Marketing Team Focuses on Global Week of Trade Shows, New Sequencer Rollout

For Applied Biosystems, the next few weeks are the high season for trade show appearances. Two important exhibitions next week in Beijing and Toronto will be galvanizing events for Scott Jenkins, the new vice president for marketing for the company’s molecular biology division and manager of the ABI’s new centralized internal marketing services team.

Next week, Jenkins will be juggling major exhibitions of the company’s products at the Human Proteome Congress in Beijing, starting Monday, and at the American Society of Human Genetics meeting in Toronto, which starts Tuesday.

“We have some challenges in the next couple of weeks,” Jenkins told BioCommerce Week on Tuesday. “But we have great teams within the division, in genomics and proteomics, and we have a really solid events team.”

The company is hitting its marketing stride just three months after unveiling a new organizational structure that reflects a rebuilding of its corporate operations to streamline costs and address a market that is in a state of rapid change. The sequencing business that ABI pioneered to great financial success has slowed to low single-digit growth, while other businesses like proteomics are steaming along at double-digit growth rates.

In the months since the reorganization, ABI launched its new LS*LIMS software on Sept. 22, and within the last two weeks, the 7900HT Fast Real-Time PCR System in a 96-well format, and the 9800 Fast PCR System.

Next week, the company will launch its next-generation capillary sequencers at ASHG, Jenkins said, with product managers ready for the rollout of ABI’s 3130 and the 3130xl products. Expect to see members of the marketing team and other executives there.

“The [trade show] schedule is driving my marketing team,” Jenkins said. “All the executives and our marketing council are going to do our quarterly and monthly meetings in conjunction with our shows. My job is to get my team to as many of these events as possible and stay as close as possible to the customers.”

Jenkins has almost 10 weeks on the job since joining ABI in August. He is responsible for overseeing the interface between the company and its customers and will direct how the reorganized ABI addresses its markets and, ultimately, will be judged on sales growth.

Jenkins, who holds a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from the University of Minnesota, joined ABI from IBM’s life sciences division, where he was manager for the company’s device and diagnostics business segment. Previous to that, he was chief operating officer for ComGenex International. In his career, Jenkins has worked as manager for life sciences for Apple Computer and director of business development for the NutraSweet Division of NSC Technologies.

Jenkins said that ABI will soon unveil new strategies to generate traffic to its show booths. What specifically these will be, he wouldn’t say.

“I don’t want to tip my hand and give competitors the inside track,” he said.

Marketing competition is fierce and is growing within the molecular biology tools industry with the addition of new blood, he said.

“Companies throughout the industry have brought in new executives, people from different industries, to bring what they have learned and apply it to this industry,” Jenkins said. “That’s why I am here.”

Jenkins not only has to balance an ongoing slate of tradeshows, but other marketing efforts such as an ongoing series of some 15 company-sponsored seminars on mass spectrometry for proteomics applications and another 15 for drug discovery and development in locations throughout the US and Canada — as well as a series of webcasts.

The marketing team is merging previous organizations and moving from a product-based structure to a centralized structure, while continuing to derive budget support based on product revenues.

The here-and-now demands are numerous, but Jenkins said the company also has an eye to the future and the emerging systems biology market.

“The idea of systems biology is about the overall integration of data,” he said. “It’s the point of origin and the cascading of that data from there. We own the point of origin with many of our products lines of molecular biology.”

But, back on the trade show floor, the goal is to get close to the customer, Jenkins said. He declined to provide any metrics for evaluating ABI’s return on investment for trade show exhibition.

“Seeing us at a trade show is like coming to our R&D center,” Jenkins said. “Rarely does a customer come to a show with a suitcase full of cash. At the end of the day, in every organization, marketing is measured by sales. What we want to make sure is that they consider us when they make purchasing decisions.”

Meantime, the company will report financials for its first quarter for FY 2005, ending Sept. 30, on Tuesday.

The nine analysts covering the company are estimating per-share earnings of $0.17, according to a survey by First Call/Thomson Financial. The company has exceeded analysts’ estimations for the previous two quarters, by 8 and 5 percent, respectively. The company hit estimates three quarters ago but missed missing earnings estimates by 6 percent four quarters ago.

— Mo Krochmal ([email protected])

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