This month CCTW set up an interview with lance Ferrin to discuss his life, values and how his role has changed over the years.
CCTW – How did you choose your profession?
Mr. Ferrin – I was on a different career path when I went to college. I was planning on being a dentist! I was taking the pre-med classes and realized I might not have the drive necessary to complete all the schooling. I was having a little too much fun too. I met with several dentists who recommended that I not go into dentistry because it was very competitive and heading toward socialized medicine. (Funny that dentistry is not the field that has gone that way).
At the same time, my father Bruce started Continental Seal (CSI), which eventually became CSI International, which sold custom molded rubber products to OEMs. Bruce was quite the entrepreneur. He always had some new ideas or a way to improve on things. One of his former jobs was in the custom molded rubber industry. So, he decided that he was going to start his own company supplying custom molded rubber and plastic components. He had no money, a wife, one son in college, one starting the next year, and three more at home. Perfect timing. Fortunately, the first two years went great for him. So, getting back to how I chose my career. I felt dentistry was not the right path for me, didn’t know what to do, my dad had a new company that seemed like there was potential for growth, and he seemed excited to have me work for him. I thought it would be a great opportunity to work for my dad, and I took the easy way out.
CCTW – Your career started at a very young age, how did you get to your current position?
Mr. Ferrin – I started with CSI when it was two years old. Helped start Allison Medical with my father, brother Justin and another brother Ross who no longer works with us. I have never worked anywhere else as an adult. In the beginning, I did everything, sales, accounting, warehouse, etc. I learned every aspect of the business along with my dad and brother Justin. We learned as we went along. We could never afford to hire anyone with experience, so we always figured out how to get to the next level on our own. Sometimes we learned the best way and other times we just figured it out, right or wrong. My main job was sales so when Justin joined the company, he took over the accounting which let me concentrate on more of my strengths. As we grew, we got to a point where we needed to separate our responsibilities. Bruce was the president; I was sales and Justin was accounting. When Bruce started thinking about retirement, I became President and Justin CFO.
CCTW – Tell us a little about how you ended up in Colorado?
Mr. Ferrin – I grew up moving about every 3 years. I was born in Minnesota and then lived in four other states until moving to Colorado in high school. As I have said, my dad was an entrepreneur. Always starting a business or trying a new idea. He did several different jobs/businesses – pest control, rubber component manufacturing, restaurants, truck washing, food service, etc. until he started CSI. We were a very close Christian family and most of us still live in the Denver area. My mom and dad were married in their early 20’s until my dad died in 2005. I have 3 brothers and had a sister who died in 1986 at the age of 19. Her name was Allison.
I have been married to my wife, Carolyn for 29 years. We have three sons Zane, Reese, and Trey. Zane is married to Anna and lives in New Mexico. Reese got married last summer to Courtney and they live in Utah. We have been very blessed with great daughters-in-law. Trey is in college in Minnesota, so we are empty nesters.
CCTW – This is truly a family business. Is that important to you?
Mr. Ferrin – A lot of companies have started out of a garage. We started in my parent’s house and assembled, inspected, and shipped out of it. My mom and younger brothers and sister would set up a little assembly line to clamp big extruded rubber bands together for the covers of trampolines. Ladies and kids from the neighborhood would come over and help too. I am not sure you could do that with medical devices anymore!
Justin, and I have been partners in Allison for years. We work very closely together to achieve our goals and are committed to running Allison with the following values: Act with Integrity, treat everyone with respect, bring value to our customers, continually improve, give back to the community and honor God.
Allison was named after our sister who died in 1986. We had CSI but wanted to start manufacturing our own line of syringes. In 1990 we started Allison and later merged the two companies.
CCTW – Tell us more about your company and what is the focus of the business?
Mr. Ferrin – Allison Medical manufactures disposable medical products. The main product line is for the diabetes market, but we have also expanded into hospital/alternate care facilities too. We own part of a factory in Korea to manufacture our syringes and pen needles. AMI also has a line of safety products and general syringes. We also have a 503B compounding facility we are in the process of selling.
We currently have 45 employees. We have been in business since 1981 as CSI and then Allison Medical. The company took off the first couple of years and then our two biggest customers filed for bankruptcy within six months of each other and nearly brought us down with them. We struggled for years before the growth started. Once we got into the syringe products, our growth took off again and that has been our main focus ever since. Today, Allison Medical is a leading provider of high-quality drug delivery products to the growing domestic and international healthcare markets.