The Fisher Scientific Brand Turns 120
By Christina Hooton
From our inception in 1902 to becoming part of the world leader in serving science, the Fisher Scientific brand has had a prolific history that we’re proud to celebrate. Keep reading to learn more about our legacy of partnering with scientists like you and how we’ll continue to evolve to serve your needs now and into the future.
A Brief History
Chester G. Fisher founded the Scientific Materials Company on May 6, 1902, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when he was only 20 years old. As a recent engineering graduate, he saw the need for a company that would supply the scientific tools for Pittsburgh’s many industries, including the burgeoning steel business. Shortly after, in 1904, the company published its first catalog. The business was officially renamed the Fisher Scientific Company in 1925 to set it apart from the many new companies springing up with generic names. The Fisher Scientific catalog would become a staple in labs all over the world.
On May 8, 2006, Thermo Electron Corporation and Fisher Scientific International Inc. combined to form the company we know today, Thermo Fisher Scientific. It was described as an industry-transforming transaction, creating the leading provider of laboratory products and services in life, laboratory, and health sciences.
The Fisher Scientific brand, now part of Thermo Fisher, continues to complement the company’s value proposition. Fred Lowery, senior vice president and president of Customer Channels for Thermo Fisher Scientific, said, “We accelerate innovation and provide our customers with productivity at the same time. The channel brings deep customer understanding and access, and the rest of the company brings deep scientific knowledge and service capabilities.”
Answering the Call
The Fisher Scientific brand has always responded to the challenges of the day. Severe polio endemics plagued the world between 1948 and 1955. Without a vaccine, many people avoided crowds and large gatherings. Jonas Salk, an American virologist and the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, thought he could immunize patients with a vaccine composed of “killed” polio virus. In 1954, Salk developed his vaccine at the University of Pittsburgh using Fisher Scientific reagents. By 1961, the incidence of polio in the United States had dropped by 95 percent.
More recently, the Fisher Scientific brand responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by supplying the critical personal protective equipment, sanitization products, and testing supplies needed to combat the virus. As vaccine development and production ramped up, the brand supplied the products, resources, and expertise for every stage of the process, from virology research and vaccine development to surveillance testing and vaccine distribution.
"What Chester Fisher was after is still what we strive to accomplish today — deliver on our promise that we’re going to give our customers what they want when they want it and provide them with the best products from the best supplier partners in the industry. It’s pretty remarkable that a 120-year-old brand has a similar purpose and values that it was founded on."
- Fred Lowery Senior Vice President and President, Customer Channels, Thermo Fisher Scientific
Throughout the years, the Fisher Scientific brand has been a trusted source for innovative scientific supplies and products. It was Chester’s brother, Edwin Fisher, who developed the MekerFisher Burner, hailed as the most important improvement in burners since the original Bunsen burner was introduced circa 1888. The Scientific Materials Company manufactured the first electric combustion furnace and combustion train for analyzing carbon levels in steel. And at the time, its thermostatically controlled laboratory incubator was considered superior to other models. This legacy of sourcing innovation continues today as the Fisher Scientific brand supplies many top brands, including Thermo Fisher’s leading offerings, the Thermo Scientific, Applied Biosystems, and Invitrogen brands.
Serving Science Today and Tomorrow
Today the Fisher Scientific brand offers more than 1.5 million products from over 9,000 suppliers globally through a leading e-commerce platform, powerful distribution network, and a trusted team of sales representatives, scientific specialists, and other experts. In addition to supplying the products needed to advance science, the team provides equipment and instrument services, stockroom management, production solutions, and so much more.
“We have a rich and extensive history of serving our customers. We’re often the first experience for Thermo Fisher Scientific customers, so we have a team that’s extremely customer-centric,” said Lisa Witte, president of North America and emerging markets for the Fisher Scientific channel at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “As part of Thermo Fisher Scientific, we have extensive product breadth and can serve customers of all sizes and market segments. We can work with a customer from their first round of funding to production. As they grow, we can grow with them. We’re the conduit that brings in various product solutions and services along that continuum.”
Christina Hooton is a Thermo Fisher Scientific staff writer.