Bell International Laboratories of Eagan broke ground Friday on its second plant and jobs expansion in a year.
The company, which manufacturers organic health and beauty products for name-brand manufacturers, moved last year from two small plants in Minneapolis to a large facility in an Eagan industrial park.
Bell Labs has added 100 jobs in the last 12 months and intends to add another 50 this year.
“We are far from done with the work to expand Bell Labs,” said Mo Saremi, founder and chief executive. “We expect to employ up to 300 Minnesotans by the end of 2017 [and] add an additional 100,000 square feet to our Eagan campus.”
Saremi, an Iranian-American chemist who studied at Minnesota State University, Mankato, started Bell in 1996, after working as a chemist at other companies.
Two years ago, his firm employed about 80 people.
But it started to focus on the lucrative natural-ingredient market for skin care that has fueled rapid growth since 2015 as the U.S. market followed the European trend of fewer synthetic chemicals in cosmetics.
Saremi said Bell will post revenue of $50 million this year and approach $75 million in 2018. “Sun care is a very big part of our business and people want natural products that are not synthetic, active-ingredient chemicals,” he said.
He said the company handles manufacturing for most of the sun-care products seen in retailers like Whole Foods. The company has spent heavily on research and innovation to develop the higher-margin natural products.
“They are mineral-based and plant-based,” Saremi said. “And we also manufacture traditional sun-care products with chemicals. Our biggest area is organic, enviro-friendly products. They are not commodity products. And they are more expensive.”
That creates a wider profit margin that has enabled Saremi to reinvest in new products and personnel.