Minnesota thermal storage firm purchased by California firm

  • Article by: PATRICK KENNEDY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 9, 2013 - 8:37 AM

Minnesota Thermal Science containers store blood at optimal temperatures for U.S. military.

Minnesota Thermal Science (MTS), an award-winning developer of "Golden Hour" thermal-insulated containers, has been acquired by a larger Southern California company.

MTS will merge with Torrance, Calif.-based Pelican Products Inc.'s BioPharma division, which makes secure, reusable temperature storage containers. MTS' containers, used by the U.S. military, can safely store and transport blood in extreme weather conditions.

The term "Golden Hour" refers to the first hour after a serious injury when most trauma deaths occur.

The deal, announced Tuesday, closed Dec. 31. Officials from Pelican, citing confidentially agreements, would neither confirm nor deny a published report from Datamonitor Financial Deals Tracker that the deal was worth $26 million.

"Joining forces with Pelican will enable us to aim even higher and provide customers with an unmatched global cold-chain solution under one company," said Tom Anderson, CEO of MTS, in the company's news release.

MTS currently has 35 employees and has been growing revenue 50 percent per year over the past five years. Pelican Products has 1,250 employees and a global reach.

MTS was founded in 2004 on technology developed by William Mayer, a retired Minnesota scientist and former chairman and CEO of high-tech instrument maker Mocon.

Mayer, who died in 2008, developed a thermal-insulated container in 2002 to transport blood in extreme climates. Mayer developed the technology in response to a competition sponsored by the military and meant to help U.S. medics in Iraq and Afghanistan keep blood supplies fresh.

Mayer, who had modestly called his invention "just a box," won the Army's Greatest Inventions Award and an AmeriStar Packaging Award in 2003. Mayer's box kept blood fresh and under optimal temperatures for three or more days under extreme conditions.

MTS later developed additional products for commercial markets. In 2008 the company developed the "Credo Cube" a reusable packaging product line for pharmaceutical, tissue, biologics, blood, lab and diagnostics industries. The company's containers can be configured to maintain temperature within a 2- to 8-degree range for up to 96 hours without the need for ice, dry ice or gel packs.

In 2009 MTS won a Tekne award for advanced manufacturing from the Minnesota High Tech Association.

Pelican's vice president of strategic initiatives, Dave Williams, told the Star Tribune in an interview Tuesday that the two companies have had a long-term relationship. "That's progressed over the last 12 months as Pelican has entered this industry," Williams said.

Pelican aims to add international capability to MTS, he said, and maintain the company's 50 percent annual revenue growth rate.

"We look to be the largest player in this space over the next three to five years,'' he said.

MTS' Anderson will head Pelican's BioPharma division and his management staff and the company's 35 employees will remain at MTS's Plymouth facility.

Pelican Products is most known for developing hard-shell protective cases for cameras, laptops and other items, as well as advanced portable lighting systems.

Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926

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