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Quick Facts

 

Phoenix Flow Systems was started by C. Kevin Becker almost 21 years ago after he was laid off from Ortho Diagnostics Systems(when it was sold to Becton Dickinson) shortly after he broke his leg in a bicycle crash. Kevin had started his career in flow cytometry under the tutelage of Susan Wormsley approximately 7 years prior as a service man for the Ortho Cytofluorograf. It was through the relationships he built up with many early adopters of flow cytometry while fixing their flow cytometers that enabled PFS to be successful.

Going back to his roots, Kevin first offered repairs and service contracts on Cytofluorografs and air cooled Argon laser upgrades to flow cytometers. Remember Omnicrhome lasers? The first software product PFS started selling was MultiCycle AV, DNA analysis software. (Which we still sell today) This product was made available to PFS by Dr. Peter Rabinovitch from the Univ. of Washington, Seattle. Kevin used to repair Dr. Rabinovitch's Cytofluorograf. Over the years, PFS distributed other fine DOS software products developed by Dr. Rabinovitch and Mike Shen. First there was Multi2D, then MultiPlus and MultiTime, kinetic data analysis software. Kevin also attempted selling Windows listmode analysis software (ListView) and PC data acquisition software but was not successful in these fields.

PFS was also at one point the distributor of the Partec flow cytometers, but differences in basic mind sets between PFS and Partec destroyed this relationship.

It was while Kevin was traveling the world, participating in many flow cytometry courses, teaching DNA analysis, that the next momentous event occurred in the PFS corporate time line (17 years ago). Kevin met his future wife, Margie. At the time, Margie was a Coulter flow cytometry sales rep on the East Coast of the USA and had recently won top salesperson award of the year. They met at the flow cytometry course at Boudin College, Maine. Margie and Kevin fell in love. Margie quit here job with Coulter and moved to California to work with Kevin at PFS. Margie and Kevin were married. Then other friends of Kevin's changed Margie's and his life. Dr. Darzynkiewicz (www.darzynkiewicz.com) and Dr. Traganos from Brander Cancer Center called and said they had developed a new assay for measuring apoptosis and were tired of getting many technical questions about it. Dr. D&T thought PFS should develop a reagent kit for this assay, complete with control cells, so investigator would stop calling them with technical issues. . The assay they developed was the TUNEL assay for measuring apoptosis. Fortunately, Margie came from a lab background and so was able to create this product for PFS, because Kevin could fix flow cytometers and computers, but didn't know what end of a pipette to suck on. So was created the Apo-Direct & Apo-BrdU TUNEL assay kit by PFS. Then the Absolute-S cell proliferation kit using the patented SBIP technology from Dr. D&T. PFS was now going in another direction besides software. This was a good thing as well, because Kevin was also not a programmer, which is a necessary skill to be successful in the flow cytometry software market. In addition, Kevin had forged a close software distributor relationship with Coulter. And we all know what happened to Coulter cytometer sales don't we. But even his flow cytometry software friends have been good to PFS, recently through the efforts of Dave Novo at DeNovo Software, the sophisticated DNA curve fitting algorithms of MultiCycle AV, PFS's first product, have been added to DeNovo's FCS Express List mode analysis software.

Life went on and more opportunities presented themselves, Kevin and Margie had other good friends in flow cytometry that shared their knowledge. Susan Schmidt worked in a clinical lab and had developed some control cells for flow cytometry. She asked if PFS wanted to go into the control cell business. This relationship started the CRISP control product line. Dr. Schliermann formally from Partec, gave PFS the anti-BrdU hybridoma that he made in graduate school. A few years after this Dr. Jacobberger from Case Western University helped PFS develop their anti-BrdU cell proliferation assay called the EZ-BrdU kit. These are just a few of the individuals that have helped Kevin and Margie with their business. So over the years, PFS has gone from a flow cytometry software distribution and flow cytometer repair business into a micro biotech reagent company. PFS has only three employees, Brenda, Sean and Susan, but flow cytometry has been good to us and made us very happy.

As a side note, approximately 7 years ago, Kevin and Margie purchased Innovative Cell Technologies. This is why the Accutase and Accumax products are spread around the PFS web page. Once again this was an opportunity offered by a friend who had developed the ICT products but was getting a divorce and could not continue with the company. Recently Accutase was shown to be able to grow hESc in a monolayer, and Accutase's future looks so promising that ICT is building a cGMP manufacturing facility for these products..

If you have an idea for a flow cytometry or lab product which you have tried to sell to the big boys without success, give us a call. We are open to new ideas. Our ego isn't hurt because you tried to sell it to the big boys to go for the big bucks first. We are going to be around for quite a bit longer, we have two young children, own our building and enjoy working at our company. We can't guarantee we will make you millions of dollars, but we will make you a few bucks and have some fun at the same time.

Thanks again flow cytometry friends,

Kevin & Margie, Phoenix Rose and Bianca Becker





 

Cast of Characters at PFS

C. Kevin Becker

CEO, President, Software Expert, Stealth Marketing Specialist, Gut Grinder, Lab Worker, Repair Man

Margie C. Becker

COO, Lab Director, Scientist, Kit Maker, Chief Label Applier, Mom, & Chef

Sean Yang

Chief Scientist, Conjugation Specialist, TdT Enzyme Purification Expert, Histochemist Wizard, Keeps track of Kevin in Lab

Susan Harvey

Office Manager, Marketing Assistant, Paperwork Organizer, Phone Support, QC Manager

Peter Kim

Shipping & Receiving Specialist, Chief Bottle Torquer, Shrink Wrapper, Meeting Organizer, Flow Cytometer Operator

Dr. Robert Leif, PhD

Chief Kibitzer, Chief PhD, EuMac Specialist, Patent Officer, Eminent Domain Specialist