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Post published on 09/03/2023

Synchronise, orchestrate, motivate

With these three words, Thomas Fricke, who joined IMA exactly 30 years ago, begins to explain the All-In-One PHARMA strategy that is the leitmotif of IMA Pharma’s approach to the third decade of the 21st century. Synergy is important because lack of synergy is equivalent to a lack of interest. Working synergically leads to greater opportunities for ourselves and for our customers, but synergy means accepting and exploiting diversity.


Diversity constitutes a more valuable whole, and it comes in many shapes and sizes.

On a personal basis, Thomas has always divided his life between his adopted hometown of Cologne on the banks of the Rhine in Germany and the place where his professional heart lies, with IMA in Italy’s packaging valley. This also reflects his ability and desire to foster relations between the different divisions, between the talents, moving people into roles where they will flourish, optimising resources to support the company’s growth. Sharing opinions and welcoming curiosity cultivates the diversity that even customers benefit from, eager to learn how other industries achieve targets the pharmaceutical manufacturers may just dream of.

“Part of our job is to facilitate synergies at every level, exploiting the intrinsic diversities we encounter. IMA Pharma is where skills combine and where collective expertise works to provide a single solution for a complex task. This is the All-In-One”.


The All-In-One strategy

In many ways, this approach starts by closing the gaps. IMA has gone from being a machine supplier to a solutions provider. Thomas summarises this evolution in a pragmatic way: “Today, it’s easier for me to tell a customer which machines IMA does not supply, than to list all the solutions we develop and deliver to make up a complete processing and packaging line for our pharmaceutical customers.”

Whereas in the past, a customer would need to sign a number of contracts with an equivalent number of suppliers, today, IMA represents the privileged partner; privileged because the customer knows they can trust such a cohesive organisation and can delegate certain responsibilities, especially with a growing depletion in resources (both technical and administrative) on the customer’s side.

IMA represents state-of-the-art technology, pro-cess knowledge, and ensures that today’s solution will easily adapt to tomorrow’s needs. IMA also has the financial critical mass to guarantee continuity, to keep a stock of critical components, nev-er fall short of expectations and never be afraid of having a vision.

Nowadays, customers are a different species to what they were just a few years ago. Corporate social responsibility was more of a fashion when IMA began talking of sustainability over 10 years ago. Today, a customer has new priorities. They are looking for reliable technologies, an ongoing partnership, digitalisation, sustainable solutions that optimise the total cost of ownership. Nobody really haggles over a small discount when you can offer real value.

All-In-One is a pledge, a promise of efficiency. One investment, one contract, one relationship based on trust that ensures every ounce of value is shared with the customer. Nothing is lost talking to diffe-rent departments or companies, even those who claim to form a strategic alliance, where a perfect balance is never to be found.

Looking towards the future of Pharma.

There are two ways to discuss the future: where the market is taking us and how we can take the market to where it wants to go. On one hand, we see the need for unprecedented flexibility, with the increase in high-value cell therapy drugs, where speed is not vital, but precision and quality are. On the other hand, there is a need for robust, reliable equipment for commodity products where efficiency and cost-effective solutions are a must. In both cases, we endeavour to anticipate the market by involving all the Pharma divisions, channelling their specific expertise into a project and co-developing solutions which act as the basis for an integrated line. These can then be tweaked and tailored to suit individual customer needs. Further ahead into the future, there is a chance we will see personalised therapies requiring us to rethink and reinvent our solutions.

I sometimes imagine our lines connected to the internet, to a space where a company produces a couple of boxes of highly personalised medicines, which are packed and labelled individually. With the click of a button, a solution will dispatch the product directly without losing time, further enhancing the value delivered by today’s leading pharmaceutical companies. We are working in all directions to support this industry and when a customer recently said to me ‹You guys at IMA are like my elongated workbench.› I realised this was one of the best compliments I could have wished for. We listen, understand, and activate all our resources to provide the most effective answer. This is the way we work, and I’m proud of it.”

Interview with Thomas Fricke, IMA Pharma Commercial Director

Thomas holds a degree in mechanical engineering and two years’ commercial education in international trading. He began his career with IMA in 1992 as sales manager at IMA Germany. He later led the same branch as managing director. His career has often seen him working in different countries – particularly Germany and Italy – proving his ability to adapt and succeed in different cultures. Since 2011, he has also been acting as sales & marketing director for the pharma packaging solutions hub, based in Italy. After several years full of success and achievements in this position, he has recently taken over the role of commercial director for the entire IMA Pharma sector. 

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