Rising to the top
Resilient and reliable, Peak Scientific, a leading manufacturer of laboratory grade gas generators, is ready to invest in the future and expand its global reach in 2021
Validated by the world’s leading instrument manufacturers, Peak Scientific’s gas generator solutions are among the best on the market. Producing on-demand nitrogen, hydrogen and nair, Peak’s gas generators are practical, cost- effective and energy-efficient alternatives to pressurized gas cylinders, dewars and bulk gas storage. Headquartered in Glasgow, the company has, over the years, evolved into a global exporter, with 20 established sales and support sites spread across the world and 95 per cent of revenue derived from overseas markets.
“Peak Scientific started back in 1997 and has grown considerably since then,” explains CEO Jonathan Golby. “The space we are in today is predominantly analytical gases. Wherever any nform of analysis takes place in a laboratory, the nanalytical equipment in use generally requires na form of gas in its operation. At Peak, we offer nitrogen, hydrogen and zero air solutions, the latter of which is effectively a hydrocarbon-free air generator.
“When it comes to product, our biggest competitor is the gas cylinder. The reason that we, as a business, have a market is because the gas cylinder is no longer well-liked or highly regarded. In fact, cylinders are considered fairly dangerous in laboratories. They are not only a manual handling challenge from a health and safety perspective, but they also have poor green credentials. One of the biggest differentiators for a gas generator is that, if serviced each year, it will run continuously. A gas cylinder, on the other hand, will need replaced on a regular basis.”
As of 2021, Peak’s most popular products are nitrogen gas generators for LCMS analysis. Used in everything from drug discovery to academia, forensic science to general pharmaceutical applications, Peak’s nitrogen generator solutions can be found in use at a huge and varied range of organizations. Although this remains the company’s core business, Peak also offers larger, bespoke systems in areas like food packaging and diaper production, as well as the aforementioned hydrogen and air solutions. Despite the unrivalled breadth and quality of Peak’s offering, Jonathan believes that the company’s greatest strength lies in its celebrated service and maintenance capabilities.
“We have built our business on service,” Jonathan declares. “Every gas generator we sell requires ongoing maintenance and so one thing we have done – which none of our competitors have done – is we have built a global service network. In every country that we sell to directly, we have a service presence consisting of specialist engineers available to perform preventative maintenance visits or breakdown coverage, ensuring that customers’ equipment is kept running no matter what.
“Servicing is an incredibly important part of our work,” Jonathan continues. “Imagine that an analytical machine is running forensic samples in key clinical markets when it suddenly goes down because the gas supply has failed – that is a major issue. At Peak, we guarantee that we can have people onsite as quickly as possible to fix any issues that might occur. It’s a massive differentiator for us and has helped us scale globally. It’s the reason we are number one for service in the industry.”
In what is a fairly unique situation for a business of its size and global standing, Peak manufactures all its products in its hometown of Glasgow. A significant proportion of these items are exported to China, the company’s biggest market, where UK manufactured products are viewed as superior in quality to more local alternatives. With analytics equipment often vastly expensive and incredibly complex, businesses require a gas generator that can be relied upon for its quality, and thus, Peak and its products continue to dominate the market.
With five factories to its name in the Glasgow, Peak hopes to expand its manufacturing capabilities beyond the UK in the future to help manage the global spread of the business and facilitate greener production.
“Sending something on an airplane from a factory in Glasgow doesn’t always make sense when we could produce items in local markets, but that is all future proofing,” Jonathan says. “For now, the most important thing for us to do is maintain the high quality of everything that leaves our Glasgow site.”
In order to keep producing such high-quality gas generator solutions, Peak will continue to rely upon its highly-skilled workforce – in particular, its Engineering and R&D departments. As a company competing against a variety of creditable firms in an expanding and highly competitive market, Peak believes in investing in the future of its people and products in order to stay ahead of the pack.
“We took on 14 graduate engineers in January, who join the business on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic when many young people are struggling to get work,” Jonathan reveals. “It’s an opportunity for these graduates to come into our design and engineering facility and work on projects, helping them to grow. It’s hugely important for us to not only develop our products and make them market leading, but also to develop talent here in Scotland.”
As Jonathan suggests, the impact of Covid-19 was, unsurprisingly, felt to some degree by Peak and the wider community in which it works, although the speed with which the company reacted to the crisis helped mitigate the difficulties it experienced. Having witnessed the pandemic early on due to the company’s work in China, Peak saw a decline in its revenues in April, May and June 2020, but soon bounced back. The company’s recovery was fast and significant, thanks largely to the rise in demand for virus discovery and medical equipment – an area in which Peak has always been a key player.
“At least one of the Coronavirus vaccine producers uses one of our core products in their workflow, which is a great thing,” Jonathan reports. “Governments and a number of companies are investing heavily in that space at the moment. Consequently, we’ve recovered quickly from Covid, and in the final quarter of the last calendar year, we saw record numbers.
“One of Peak’s key contributions during the pandemic was in the area of oxygen supply,” Jonathan adds. “When the crisis began, we realized there was an issue in well-established hospitals and similiar institutes where oxygen supplies were running low. In response, we were able to pivot an existing technology for nitrogen generators and use it to produce a suite of oxygen generators, which could be put into a container, linked up to compressed air and used to provide an oxygen supply to field hospitals, or act as a backup supply for larger hospitals. We turned that around in the space of six weeks and it is now a product we commercialize. We continue to receive a huge amount of interest in that from the NHS, but also internationally, in places like Africa and Peru, because it is something needed to save lives.”
Over the coming year, Peak plans to introduce more new products, alongside improvements to existing items, making them smaller, quieter and more reliable. Expanding in key geographical territories will be a priority too.
“It’s always been a focus of the business to expand its geographical footprint and we are making some significant investments in a number of territories, which is very exciting,” Jonathan states. “We are also looking into some adjacent lines for the laboratory that are not in our core space at the moment. Either way, our priority will always be to provide a world-class service to our customers.”
Already number one in its market, Peak aims to be widely recognized as a world leader in customer service within the next half-decade – not just in its own space, but across the entire business world. By increasing communication and engagement with every one of their clients, Jonathan and his team hope to provide a customer journey that far exceeds anything else on offer in the sector. Just as the company’s name suggests, Peak has its sights set on the very top.
Products: Laboratory gas generators