ORMOND BEACH — Keith Landy, the longtime CEO of Germfree Laboratories Inc., died on Monday after a protracted battle with most cancers, however not earlier than seeing his firm play an necessary position within the world race to discover a remedy for the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ormond Seashore firm was the maker of the modular bio-containment lab in Singapore that was the first to isolate the COVID-19 virus.
It was the primary of a number of cell labs that Germfree has delivered to scientists and organizations around the globe engaged on virus and antibody testing, vaccine improvement, analysis and deployment options, confirmed Kevin Kyle, firm president.
“The whole lot that Germfree has finished during the last 20 years has ready us to handle occasions just like the COVID-19 pandemic,” Landy mentioned in a written assertion posted on the corporate’s web site this previous spring. “Going again to earlier than 9/11, Germfree was working with the U.S. Military in creating tools and cell amenities that might tackle the specter of a organic weapons assault.”
Kyle in a telephone interview Thursday mentioned, “Whilst Keith battled his personal well being considerations, he continued to be the motive force of innovation at Germfree, engaged on merchandise that serve the whole life sciences market.”
The demand for the corporate’s bio-containment labs and bio-safety merchandise have grown considerably because the onset of the pandemic, Kyle mentioned.
“We have added about 40 staff since March, virtually all full time,” he mentioned. Germfree at present employs greater than 180 staff at its 173,000-square-foot headquarters/manufacturing plant on the Ormond Seashore Airport Enterprise Park.
Rising (with) the household enterprise
Germfree was based in 1962 in Miami by Landy’s father, Jerome, a doctor who started making security tools for hospital pharmacies.
Keith Landy went to work full-time for his dad within the early Eighties after graduating from the College of Illinois Urbana-Champaign the place he earned a level in agricultural economics. Landy took over the enterprise when his Dad retired in 2000 and three years later moved the corporate to Ormond Seashore. He introduced six staff with him together with youthful brother Craig, vice chairman of company communications.
Most of the staff that made the transfer are nonetheless with the corporate immediately.
“That is a testomony to Keith,” mentioned Craig Landy. “He cared a lot concerning the staff. He noticed the potential in them and helped elevate many to locations they did not even consider.”
Invoice Serle, the corporate’s director of high quality, was Keith Landy’s first rent in 1982, beginning out as a manufacturing supervisor. “They ran an advert within the Miami Herald. He and his dad and mother interviewed me.”
Seven years later, Keith Landy wound up hiring Serle’s youthful brother Jeff as effectively. “I began out sweeping the flooring. I used to be 21 on the time,” mentioned Jeff Serle who immediately is the corporate’s senior vice chairman of engineering.
Katharine Lo, Germfree’s pharmacy gross sales supervisor, started working for the corporate in 1991 as a receptionist. “Keith cared about all his staff. He’d stroll by means of the store and speak to folks. You could possibly go to him for something, whether or not it was private or business-related.”
Lo mentioned Landy additionally had a eager humorousness.
One time, in the course of the anthrax scare that instantly adopted the 9/11 terrorist assaults, Lo took a telephone name from a girl saying she was calling on behalf of the White Home and wanted to talk with Landy instantly.
“Once I advised Keith, he mentioned, ‘Take a message,'” Lo recalled including that she was shocked by his response. “It turned out he was simply messing with me. He’d already taken the decision and simply wished to see my response.”
The federal authorities wound up ordering a number of duct-less fume hoods which allowed staff to open suspicious packages and letters with out being uncovered to doubtlessly lethal fumes or particles.
The rising demand for Germfree’s bio-containment security merchandise prompted Landy’s determination partially to maneuver the corporate to Volusia County the place it might lease a bigger constructing at a decrease rental fee than in South Florida. It additionally supplied a extra fascinating place to lift a household.
Landy and his spouse Caroline’s oldest youngster was only a toddler on the time.
“Keith thought it could be an important place to develop a enterprise,” Invoice Serle recalled. “Miami had grow to be a tough place to do enterprise. It was super-crowded and the congested roads made it tough to maneuver stuff round, to not point out the lengthy commutes. Up right here, (getting from one place to a different) was quite simple.”
Not lengthy after shifting his firm into the 22,000-square-foot constructing at 11 Aviator Manner within the Ormond Seashore Airport Enterprise Park, Landy started engaged on creating a strategy to convert trailers into cell bio-containment labs. Germfree expanded its product line additional a pair years later to incorporate everlasting modular bio-containment labs.
The corporate supplied cell labs for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Germfree wound up leasing an adjoining constructing at 9 Aviator Manner in addition to house in a 3rd close by constructing within the early 2000s. In 2015, a necessity for more room beneath one roof prompted the transfer to the corporate’s current location, a 173,000-square-foot constructing at 4 Sunshine Blvd. that was beforehand the headquarters for Stylemark, the sun shades maker.
Businessman with ‘childlike curiosity’
Germfree immediately ships its merchandise to nations everywhere in the world. The corporate has been honored a number of occasions by the Volusia Producers Affiliation as the world’s Exporter of the Yr. In 2018, Germfree gained the VMA’s Producer of the Yr Award. Germfree was additionally chosen by Orlando-based GrowFL as one of many prime “Florida Firms to Watch” in 2018.
“They export to all of the continents aside from Antarctica,” mentioned VMA CEO Jayne Fifer of Germfree.
Fifer described Landy as somebody who believed in selling Volusia County as a producing hub. He additionally inspired younger folks to contemplate careers in manufacturing.
Landy additionally loved taking up challenges, she mentioned.
“When he discovered that rum was one of many first merchandise manufactured right here, he started growing sugar cane with the concept of creating rum to carry to a producing historical past occasion we have been holding (in 2014),” Fifer mentioned.
Ryan Henry, the product and phase supervisor at Germfree, mentioned there may be nonetheless sugar cane rising at each the corporate’s previous location in addition to its current headquarters on the airport enterprise park.
“Keith Landy was simply the neatest, most curious individual you could possibly ever meet,” Henry mentioned. “He had an virtually child-like curiosity. He was such a wildly artistic individual.”
Craig Landy mentioned his older brother’s love of inventing issues began after they have been children.
“We did not want Tinker Toys as a result of we might go and play within the manufacturing unit. We had the metallic store (at Germfree’s unique location in Miami) to play with,” mentioned Craig. “Keith liked going with Dad to construct issues.”
Keith Landy was additionally an enormous believer within the significance of getting schooling. He supplied to assist pay for school tuition for a lot of his staff through the years.
Terrence Stubbs, an account supervisor within the pharmacy gross sales division at Germfree, started working for the corporate in 1996 at age 19.
“I began as a store worker, cleansing flooring and ensuring the cabinets have been stocked,” Stubbs recalled. “Keith and his Dad helped pay for me to go to (neighborhood) school. Once I got here up right here with the corporate, I completed my bachelor’s diploma in enterprise administration at Daytona State School. I’m now taking (on-line) courses to get my grasp’s diploma (in enterprise administration) from the College of West Florida.”
Dedication to the neighborhood
Landy was additionally devoted to giving again to the neighborhood. A few the charitable causes he passionately supported through the years have been the Jerry Doliner Meals Financial institution and Operation Backpack packages at The Jewish Federation of Volusia & Flagler Counties.
The meals financial institution in Ormond Seashore supplies groceries to 1000’s of deprived households, no matter religion, all year long. Operation Backpack is an annual occasion that provides 7,000 backpacks stuffed with faculty provides to kids in want all through Volusia County.
“He (Landy) was an exquisite contributor to our group,” mentioned Gloria Max, the nonprofit Jewish Federation’s govt director. “Every time I referred to as him (for donations) he at all times responded.”
“At one time, Keith paid a gentleman who labored for him to return assist us. He was additionally very instrumental in serving to our faculty backpack program.”
Landy loved placing on barbecues for Germfree staff two to a few occasions a yr. “His specialty was peppers and sausage,” mentioned Lo. “I do know that after the pandemic passes, there’s going to be a big barbecue (as a part of a public celebration of Landy’s life), however that is additional down the highway.”
Kyle mentioned Landy was extraordinarily happy with Germfree and its staff in addition to the crucial position it’s now enjoying within the world efforts to finish to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have been standing on the entrance traces of COVID-19 from Day 1,” mentioned Kyle. “We have been serving illness surveillance, viral testing, therapies and vaccines, the whole spectrum. We’re working with everyone, from varied nationwide governments to personal business and public establishments. And 100% of our amenities and merchandise are designed and constructed proper right here in Ormond Seashore.”
The corporate on its web site issued an announcement about Landy’s dying.
“The complete Germfree household is deeply saddened by this immeasurable loss,” the assertion reads. “The household enterprise grew to be a world manufacturing firm, identified throughout industries and continents. Keith’s distinctive imaginative and prescient, his uncompromising curiosity, his prodigious mind, his razor-sharp dry wit, his boundless generosity … are only a few components that now we have misplaced together with his passing.
“Keith liked his household. He liked this firm. He liked this enterprise. He liked our shoppers. He liked his staff. … We are going to proceed to drive Keith’s imaginative and prescient by means of innovation, perseverance and onerous work. Collectively, we are going to do our half to make a greater world for our shoppers, their sufferers and our workforce. Thanks, Keith. We’re eternally in your debt.”
Landy is survived by his spouse Caroline Mitchell and their three kids: Isabelle, Owen and Sophia.
The household requests in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the Jerry Doliner Meals Financial institution at The Jewish Federation of Volusia & Flagler Counties. Checks may be mailed to the meals financial institution at 470 Andalusia Ave., Ormond Seashore, FL 32174. Particulars may be discovered at Jewishfederationdaytona.org. For extra data, ship an e mail to email@example.com or name 386-672-0294.