Manufacturing temperature-controlled equipment for the international research, medical and pharmaceutical communities is part of a long tradition in Washington County, according to Terry Tamburini, executive director of the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority.
Currently at least three remarkably stable local firms -Thermo Fisher Scientific, Cool Containers LLC, and Caron Products & Services -have found a niche in the temperature-controlled equipment industry.
"There's a culture of innovation and a collaborative spirit among these companies," Tamburini said. "They protect their own ideas but the company leaders are still good friends and they share a commonality of purpose."
Thermo Fisher and Caron both provide equipment used in scientific and medical research, while the Cool Containers division of Farrar Scientific has developed units that keep valuable medical products like vaccines at proper temperatures during transport from one area to another.
Tamburini said Caron and Farrar/Cool Containers actually morphed out of the larger Thermo Fisher, where the heads of both companies worked before developing their own firms.
"And all three of these companies continue to grow because they love the challenge of developing products that, in the end, are helping people," Tamburini said.
At a glance
There are currently three manufacturers of temperature-controlled units in the Marietta area:
Thermo Fisher Scientific, 401 Mill Creek Rd., manufactures lab equipment and supplies, including incubators, baths, refrigerators. freezers, biological safety cabinets, platelet agitators, cryogenic storage equipment, and orbital shakers. On the Web at www.thermofisher.com
Cool Containers, LLC, 30765 State Route 7, manufactures precision temperature control transportation containers for high value products. On the Web at www.coolcontainersllc.com
Caron Products & Services, Inc., 27640 State Route 7, manufactures environmental test chambers, photostability chambers, CO2 incubators, growth chambers, and fingerprint development chambers. On the Web at www.caronproducts.com
Sources: Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce and Times research
Caron lab products include:
Environmental test chambers
Refrigerated and diurnal incubators
Stackable benchtop CO2 incubators
Reach-in CO2 incubators
Insect growth chambers
Fingerprint development chambers
Bath/circulators for precise lab device temperature control
Dave Haas, president of the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority Board, said all three of the businesses specialize in developing equipment that can maintain the accurate and stable temperature environments that are critical in a variety of research and medical applications.
A partner in local heating, ventilation and air conditioning company Morrison, Inc., Haas is familiar with the concept of temperature control.
"It's all about temperature management. You're basically moving heat from one area to another, and removing that heat to create cooling," he said. "But providing the very low temperatures and controlled temperatures used in these companies' devices is difficult to achieve."
Haas said one of the most recent innovative developments came from Cool Containers.
"Formerly the state-of-the-art in transporting vaccines and other temperature-sensitive materials by airplane was to basically blow air over dry ice to keep the products cooled during shipment," he said.
Cool Containers developed a unit that can be removed from its power source and placed aboard a plane or other means of transportation and still keep precious vaccines or other contents at required temperatures until they reach their destinations.
Haas said the Cool Container devices also provide constant data tracking during shipment to guarantee shipments stay within the desired temperature range.
While mother company Thermo Fisher has the equipment and space to essentially manufacture its products from scratch, Cool Containers and Caron must order some components from outside the area, including from firms located overseas.
Both Haas and Tamburini said the port authority is working to bring companies that can provide necessary temperature-controlled cabinet-making components like sheet metal and other products into the local area.
"Why can't we produce those components in Washington County?" Tamburini asked. "What can be made here and where are the people who can produce these materials? We have to develop more businesses that complement each other."
As the local temperature-controlled business grows, there will also be a need for a properly-trained workforce.
"All of us in this business are having a hard time finding people with the necessary experience," Haas said. "So we're working with institutions like Washington State Community College and the Washington County Career Center to get people trained with the skill sets needed to do these jobs."
Tamburini said he sees limitless possibilities for the future of the local temperature-controlled industry.
"But we also need to be able to continue recruiting the talent that will be needed through improved quality of life in this area," he said. "To draw people into this area we have to use everything at our disposal and have more sensitivity for what people want in a community, including a good education system, recreational opportunities, and plenty of weekend activities and other events."