Building a Future: Dan Brower

An enduring affiliation – from FITCI’s founding to forging ahead

Dan Brower knows a thing or two about laboratories – specifically, outfitting them for maximum efficiency, even on a budget. This expertise led him to be one of the first consultants engaged in 2003 for input on a new business incubator being established at Hood College by a collection of Frederick’s public and private leaders. Now, two decades later, he remains a champion of FITCI, a nonprofit that has assisted more than 200 local startups.

“FITCI is one of my favorite clients,” Brower says. “What they do is phenomenal.”

The warm feeling is mutual. Brower serves as a resource for FITCI and its clients, even serving as an advisor on its Strategic Growth & Advisory Board (SGAB). With his background in chemistry, including material science and experience at the Naval Research Lab, along with founding three successful companies, Brower brings a wealth of expertise.

Brower currently heads two companies: Lab Enterprises Inc. (LEI) Sales, which offers new and used laboratory equipment, and GLE LLC, a supplier of lab furniture and equipment. When FITCI needed a new facility, Brower played a crucial role in the construction project, saving approximately $400,000 through his https://www.leisales.com/efforts.

FITCI CEO, Kathie Callahan Brady offers high praise. “Dan is an unwavering resource and a friend. His depth of knowledge about this type of project, his breadth of contacts, and willingness to, literally, go the extra mile make all the difference.”

LEI’s top-selling items are laboratory casework and tables, but Brower is more than a furniture dealer. “I was a scientist…that’s my advantage,” he insists, easily transitioning from discussing furniture specs and how it feels to work at a biosafety cabinet for 8 to 10 hours a day to understanding the needs of startups for critical (but expensive) equipment.

Thanks to Brower’s dedication, FITCI clients have access to fully equipped shared and private labs with advanced tools that can take them to the next competitive level – without individually investing in sub-zero freezers, high-speed centrifuges, autoclaves, or biosafety cabinets, ice makers, and deionized water dispensers. Browers’ tenacious research and creative problem-solving resulted in access to high-end equipment like NanoDrop spectrophotometers and microplate readers.

Brower says having such equipment on-site is a double benefit, helping the startups and his companies. He gives an example. “People will fly here to Maryland to see the Sensofar 3D optical profiler in the Core Lab before they invest in one.” The rest of the time, the instrument can be accessed by FITCI clients. “That’s win-win.”

As an entrepreneur, Brower empathizes with startups and FITCI’s mission to support each client’s business growth. “People say I need to raise prices, but I know startups’ typical budgets.” He insists, “If I can make them a customer, and the relationship lasts for 20 years, it’s to my benefit to look out for them from the beginning.”

Brower is adept at finding deals and seeing potential that others overlook. He recalls, “I have rebuilt probably more than 600 biosafety cabinets.”

Callahan Brady chimes in, “Dan cares that his customers are successful.”

As FITCI transitions to its new entrepreneurial community space and its labs hum with activity, Brower’s relationship with FITCI deepens further. LEI Sales as one of the first on-site resource partners in FITCI’s legacy space at Metropolitan Court.

LEI also partnered with their longtime associate, AFAB Lab Resources, to sponsor FITCI’s Core Lab – a unique resource where startups can find niche equipment that no small business could afford individually. Instead, they can use or rent such tools as needed, even with lease-to-own options. The organization also maintains a supply of select consumables, so clients can benefit from bulk pricing deals

Brower is enthusiastic about the potential of FITCI’s new mezzanine space and the expanded soft-landing program. An evolution in the incubator concept, FITCI’s transformative growth will enrich relationships among entrepreneurs at various stages of development, from early-stage to mid-level, and top-tier establishments.

“Our Core Lab has microplate readers, UV/VIS spectrophotometers, inverted microscopes, and epifluorescence microscopes. Those can be very expensive, and we have three. Later, we might add gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) options.”

Dan Brower

Reflecting on his journey, Brower offers advice to emerging entrepreneurs: “Think about what distinguishes you from others. Why are you different?” He continues, “Working with FITCI can help. Learn from those who came before you. And remember, your team includes your mentors and supporters, not just employees.”

Many thanks to Dan Brower, LEI Sales, GLE LLC, and AFAB Lab Resources for their commitment to FITCI’s mission. Together we are “opening doors for entrepreneurs.” To learn more or get involved with FITCI’s community, call 301-694-2999 for a personal tour of the new space.