History of Fisher Scientific

from the company website


Fisher Scientific was founded in Pittsburgh in 1902 by Chester Garfield Fisher, when he was only 20. His company was the first commercial source of equipment and reagents for the laboratories of western Pennsylvania's booming factories, as America became an industrial nation. C.G. Fisher's mission was to create a one-stop shop for the scientist, and during its century of growth, the company has become a world leader in serving the needs of science - in research, clinical testing, and occupational health and safety.

Historical Highlights


C.G. Fisher, a recent engineering graduate, establishes the Scientific Materials Company on May 6, 1902, after purchasing the stockroom of the Pittsburgh Testing Laboratory. Fisher saw the need for a company that would supply the scientific tools for Pittsburgh's many industries, including the burgeoning steel business.


Fisher publishes his first catalog, the Scientific Materials Co. Catalog of Laboratory Apparatus & Supplies. Later renamed The Fisher Catalog, it set the industry standard and became a recognized scientific reference tool worldwide. Fisher now publishes catalogs in eight different languages.


R&D and manufacturing facilities established by Scientific Materials Co. After World War I began, the company could no longer look to Europe as a primary source of supplies.


Company supports U.S. Chemical Warfare Service. To counteract mustard gas used by the German army, Chester Fisher rounds up seven railroad carloads of supplies to produce a complete research laboratory for the American Expeditionary Force in France.


The company introduces its own burner. Developed by Edwin Fisher, brother of the founder, the Fisher burner was hailed as the most important improvement in burners since the original Bunsen burner was introduced around 1888.


Business renamed Fisher Scientific Company. Chester Fisher changed the name of his expanding business to set it apart from the many new companies springing up with generic names. The Fisher Scientific Company would soon become synonymous with technical leadership. In 1926, Fisher established his first business outside the United States, in Montreal.


Fisher Scientific Company acquires its original supplier, New York City-based Eimer & Amend. Founded in 1851, the firm was a pioneer importer of European laboratory supplies, serving Thomas Edison, E.R. Squibb, Charles Steinmetz, Henry Ford and many other notable customers. Founder Bernard Amend was involved in the establishment of the American Chemical Society.


Fisher products are used in the Manhattan Project. Fisher began supplying chemicals and other laboratory products to the federal government's top-secret Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb. Fisher played a very essential but quiet role in equipping the laboratories of the project's various centers across the United States.


Aiken Fisher, the founder's eldest son, who had joined the company in 1929, is named President. At the age of 67, Chester Fisher became Chairman of Fisher Scientific, after serving as Fisher's President for 47 years.


Fisher reagents used to develop polio vaccine. Dr. Jonas Salk used Fisher chemicals in the development and testing of the highly successful vaccine named for him. In 1955 Fisher established a chemical manufacturing facility in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, to expand production of reagents and fine chemicals.


Fisher establishes Instrument Division. Fisher Scientific opened a 115,000-square-foot facility in Indiana, Pennsylvania, for manufacturing a wide range of laboratory supplies - from complex optical-electronic instrumentation and automatic freeze-dryers to precision-scaled atom models.


Fisher Scientific founder dies at age 84. Chester Fisher had seen his company grow from a regional laboratory supplier to a North American leader in the manufacture and distribution of scientific products. Aiken Fisher succeeded him as Chairman. Aiken's brother Benjamin became President. Fisher Scientific Company issued its first public stock in 1965, and in 1968 Fisher shares were listed on the New York Stock Exchange.


Senior Vice President James Fisher, the youngest son of the founder, introduces the first Fisher Catalog published in color. Well received by customers, it was the first such catalog in the scientific-supply industry.


Fisher acquired by Allied Corporation. After 79 years as an independent company, Fisher Scientific became a unit of Morristown, New Jersey-based Allied, a diversified chemical corporation. The ownership of Fisher Scientific would change twice more in the 1980s. Allied merged with The Signal Companies, Inc., in 1985 to create AlliedSignal Inc., now Honeywell International Inc.


Fisher chemicals used in space shuttle Columbia. Fisher Scientific chemicals were an integral component of the in-flight battery power system. This on-board power unit supplied energy for the shuttle's heat, light, communications, and reentry into the earth's atmosphere on July 4.


The Henley Group is spun off by AlliedSignal. Fisher Scientific was one of the largest of the 35 businesses that constituted the $4 billion (assets) new public company, whose objective was to enhance the performance and value of these operations.


Fisher Scientific International Inc. is created. Headed by Henley President Paul M. Montrone, the new company issued stock in an initial public offering, and the shares were listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The restoration of Fisher's independence set the stage for a resurgence of rapid growth.


Fisher acquires Curtin Matheson Scientific. The purchase of this major provider of diagnostic products greatly expanded Fisher's participation in the clinical-laboratory market in the United States and resulted in the formation of Houston-based Fisher HealthCare. Sales climbed to a record $1.44 billion.


Fisher recapitalized with investment group. Following an unsolicited takeover bid for the company, Fisher recapitalized with Thomas H. Lee Company, Chase Equity Associates L.P., Merrill Lynch & Co., and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners II, L.P.


The company acquires three businesses in 2001, increasing to 30 the total number of acquisitions since 1992, and expanding the company's capabilities and global position. These acquisitions included Cole-Parmer Instrument Company and the pharmaceutical packaging business that is now known as Fisher Clinical Services.


The company celebrates the beginning of its second century. During its centennial, Fisher acquired three more businesses, which enhanced its European presence and expanded its chemicals products and its services for drug discovery. And, as its first 100 years came to a close, Fisher Scientific achieved record sales of $3.2 billion, the 48th consecutive year of sales gains.


Fisher significantly expands its service to the world's life-science and biotechnology industries by acquiring Perbio Science AB, based in Stockholm. The transaction accelerated Fisher's growth in 2003, and Perbio's highly regarded technology, products and services are expected to be a leading contributor to Fisher's future development.


During 2004, Fisher greatly enhanced its position in the high-growth life-science market. Early in the year, the company acquired Oxoid, a leading provider of microbiology products based in Basingstoke, England, and Dharmacon, a leader in RNA technology that increases the efficiency of the drug-discovery process. Dharmacon is based in Lafayette, Colorado.

Most significantly, during August, in a merger valued at approximately $4 billion, Fisher added Apogent Technologies to its family of businesses. Apogent, a leading provider of laboratory products, will bring Fisher's annual life-science sales to $1.1 billion (projected for 2005). It also bolstered Fisher's portfolio of proprietary products for scientific research and clinical-laboratory testing, strengthened the company's global distribution network, and doubled the number of technical specialists in its sales force.