source: The State
Bill and Lou Kennedy consider their first date to be a trip to Blue Marlin in Columbia’s Vista, after a Georgia-South Carolina football game where they first met. While at the restaurant, Lou started asking about Bill’s business, a Florida-based manufacturer called Nephron Pharmaceuticals.
“I asked how many customers he had, and he said ‘three, my old company and two people who used to work for me’,” Lou Kennedy remembers. “And I said, ‘don’t you think you ought to diversify?’ That was the first time we ever met.”
Today, they have been married 20 years, and Nephron is based in Lou Kennedy’s home county, operating on a 715,000-square-foot campus in a Lexington County industrial park. Thousands of workers develop, produce and distribute a wide range of medical products. Lou Kennedy went from an interested outsider to the majority owner, now overseeing the company’s latest expansion during a time of growing needs in the medical field and a global pandemic.
“I had no science background, just a great work effort,” Lou Kennedy said.
Lou Kennedy, the company’s CEO since 2007, prides herself on being involved in every facet of the business, including its growing range of products.
Bill Kennedy bought the company in 1991. At the time he was the owner of a home care company and was interested in manufacturing his own drugs. The company received its first FDA approval in 1997, for an albuterol inhalation solution that provided a more affordable alternative for delivering anti-asthma medication.
“I consider that the beginning of Nephron,” said Bill Kennedy.
But the Orlando-based company blossomed once the two South Carolina natives — Bill grew up in Spartanburg County — decided to shift their operations back to the Palmetto State.