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Superhero deal set for firm: Nalgene Outdoor to make Avengers water bottles

Nalgene Outdoor products, a Rochester-based unit of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., has inked a deal with the Walt Disney Co. to manufacture and distribute its water bottles with the Avengers and other Marvel characters on them.

The local operation also recently rolled out its first line of lunchboxes, geared toward children.

The new products are helping drive growth and have prompted the company to lease additional space on Lexington Avenue where renovations are underway to transform the 250,000-square-foot space into a distribution center that will be operational this fall, officials said.

The cost of the project was not disclosed, but company officials said it is a multimillion dollar investment.

Thermo Fisher employs some 1,000 workers at two Rochester-area sites: a 340,000-square-foot campus on 37 acres in Penfield and an 88,000-square-foot facility on 13 acres in Perinton. The Perinton site opened in 2007. The company ranked No. 25 on the RBJ 75 list of the region’s largest employers.

Thermo Fisher’s local operation, formerly Nalge Nunc International, manufactures plastic products for use in labware, packaging, environment, biotechnology and life science applications.

Other products range from reusable plastic bottles for consumers to items for stem cell research.

The Rochester-area operation is part of Thermo Fisher’s Laboratory Consumables division, which supplies consumables, tubes and containers for sample preparation, analysis and sample storage.

“We are in a growth mode and continuing to hire,” said Jeremy Sharkey, plant manager of Thermo Fisher’s Perinton facility.

There are 16 local job openings.

Helping drive that growth is new product development, Sharkey added.

The Disney collaboration is the first co-licensing agreement for Nalgene’s consumer business, said Eric Hansen, director of Nalgene Outdoor Products.

The Avengers are a fictional team of superheroes appearing in American comic books, published by Marvel Comics, and in feature movies. They include Captain America, Iron Man and Thor.

Under the agreement, Nalgene will have access to Marvel characters, including the Avengers, Spider Man, the Incredible Hulk and Guardians of the Galaxy.

The bottles—in adult and children’s styles—are expected to be launched in July through Nalgene’s Web site. They will be sold in stores later this year, Hansen said.

The biggest challenge on the consumer side of the business is remaining relevant to the consumer, he said, noting new products become vital to growth.

“New products are the lifeblood of the business,” he said.

The Nalgene Lunch Box Buddy took roughly three years to develop, Hansen said. The lunchboxes are dishwasher safe and environmentally friendly, with an adjustable ice pack and a loop handle that can be hooked to a backpack.

The lunchboxes are available online, with additional retailers including www.amazon.com and www.babiesrus.com to follow at a price of $24.99. They will next be available in stores, Hansen said.

While the lunchboxes are manufactured outside the United States, all their distribution needs will be fulfilled locally, Sharkey said. He noted some 2,800 products are manufactured locally.

The local operation began in 1949 as Nalge Co., which made plastic products such as jars, bottles and test tubes. Shatterproof and lighter than glass, these products were used by laboratory workers, chemists and biologists.

In 1995, the local operation merged with Nunc A/S of Denmark and became Nalge Nunc International. The company became part of Thermo Fisher Scientific in 2006.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. is based in Massachusetts. The company logs revenues of $17 billion and has some 50,000 employees in 50 countries.

Alex Morozov, an analyst with Morningstar Inc., wrote in a recent note that Thermo Fisher has been delivering strong top-line growth, with good performance in its life sciences and biopharma businesses. International business is growing, particularly in China and the Asia-Pacific, he wrote.

Thermo Fisher also has been growing through acquisitions. Last month, it announced the acquisition of FEI Co., an Oregon-based designer and manufacturer of electron microscopes that help study proteins, in a $4.2 billion deal.

6/10/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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