Top Companies to Watch applications due Friday

Manatee business BioLife, past award recipient, sees growth with WoundSeal

cschelle@bradenton.comMay 31, 2013 

MANATEE -- One of Florida's Top Companies to Watch wants to make sure you're not just putting a Band-Aid on your business.

Andrew McFall, vice president of marketing of BioLife, whose WoundSeal bandage alternative is growing into more markets this year, is encouraging more businesses to compete for the recognition they won last year.

The South Manatee business was chosen in 2012 for the Florida Companies to Watch award, and now it's another business's turn to be selected in the Edward Lowe Foundation program.

Applications are available at http://florida.companiestowatch.org and are due today.

The awards, which are hosted by the Florida Economic Gardening Institute, better known as GrowFL, and University of Central Florida, recognize the best companies second-stage businesses, which are companies that have grown beyond the start-up phase and have stabilized and are looking to expand.

In BioLife's case, it wanted to expand a product meant to stop bleeding.

WoundSeal is a nonprescription, hypoallergenic topical powder used for external bleeding wounds, and is made in a nondescript building at 8163 25th Court E. off of U.S. 301 near the Sarasota County line. The brown powder comes in small packets that allows someone to sprinkle it on a wound and apply pressure to form an instant scab. Active ingredients hydrophilic polymer and potassium ferrate create the scab, and the ingredients are non-toxic, so it's safe to use on pets, McFall said.

Production output has increased at the BioLife factory thanks in part to the company's recognition and participating in special programs helping to provide guidance of how to get WoundSeal into more stores, McFall said. BioLife recently completed deals with Rite Aid Pharmacy to carry WoundSeal, and have also added Texas pharmacy chain H-E-B, New York

pharmacy chain Duane Reade and Mid-Atlantic grocery store Giant Eagle to its list of stores.

WoundSeal is already available in Publix, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond in Sarasota and Manatee counties, in addition to Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy. The packages sell for $6.99.

"It's great from our perspective because we would get calls from people all the time saying, 'Hey, I love your product, where can I get it?'" McFall said. "Up until a year or so ago, we weren't able to say go around to your neighborhood pharmacy and get it."

WoundSeal.com also has a store locator online, which is great when people need the product immediately, he said.

"It's great because some people call us actively bleeding," McFall said. Particularly, that's common for people on blood thinners or for seniors who have thin skin, he added.

The product was created by accident when two inventors -- Alf Thompson and James Patterson -- were developing water purification technology in 2000. Patterson accidentally cut his hand on a beaker in a lab, and when the powder came in contact with his skin, he noticed he wasn't bleeding anymore.

Before WoundSeal hit the shelves, it was chiefly available in hospitals and First-Aid kits for businesses.

The Florida Companies to Watch awards will be presented Oct. 24 at Hard Rock Live in Orlando.

"Florida Companies to Watch recognizes businesses that are often overlooked -- they are too big to be small, and too small to be big, yet they are a linchpin of our economy," said Mark Huey, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County.

To be eligible for the award, a company must be a privately held, commercial enterprise that is past the startup phase and is growing; headquartered in Florida; have between six and 99 full-time equivalent employees; and 2012 revenue of $750,000 to $50 million.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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