A company that works with many of the world's top drug makers is getting ready to expand its North Charleston laboratory and manufacturing operation.

AAIPharma Services Corp. on Thursday announced the investment in new equipment and another filling line it's building off Leeds Avenue. The company also is launching a second work shift at the Faber Place Drive facility starting next month "to better accommodate customer needs and overall demand," it said in a statement.

Patrick Walsh, chief executive officer, estimated the Wilmington, N.C.-based firm will be adding 15 to 20 employees to the 50-worker operation in the next 90 days.

"That's a pretty significant growth curve," he said.

The company also announced a major expansion of its Wilmington laboratory and technology center on Thursday, when it reported strong third-quarter revenue growth.

AAIPharma is an outsourcing firm that works closely with pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms as they test, develop and make drugs.

"It's a wide range of services," Walsh said.

The company does not disclose its clients by name, but it works with almost all of the top players in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, Walsh said. AAIPharma cited a recent survey that found that 79 percent of the companies in those two industries are expected to maintain or increase the amount of work they farm out to contractors.

"We're in a really great sector, and a lot of growth is expected. ... We're also looking at a number of acquisitions to expand the business even further," Walsh said.

AAIPharma's local lab and manufacturing facility was originally established in 1995 by the Medical University of South Carolina's Health Sciences Foundation under the name Pharmaceutical Development Center. MUSC sold the nonprofit business to a predecessor of AAIPharma about a decade ago for $5.8 million.