Dayton-founded Tempagenix is working its way onto store shelves at major retail chains with its new paper thermometers.
April Pollock and Shelly Hellar formed Tempagenix in 2016 after meeting at a convention in Columbus. The two women already owned businesses of their own — Heller runs Moraine-based Allied Shipping & Packaging Supplies and Pollock owns Oregon District marketing firm The C-3 Group.
At the convention, Heller, Pollock and a friend who worked for the CAVU Group, which manufactures similar thermometers to sell in bulk to pharmaceutical companies and hospitals, developed the idea to sell the strip in a retail setting with a medical adhesive.
Tempagenix evolved from that conversation, Heller said, eventually transitioning from plastic mylar to paper strips that don’t require any mechanical components.
“That was our differentiator — is that we’re paper, no batteries, eco-friendly, travels well because it has to be on skin to work. It’s just different,” Heller said.
The thermometer is essentially a sticker with a medical grade adhesive that will continuously read a temperature for up to 48 hours, Pollock said. It’s good for kids because parents don’t have to wake them up to check their temperature. The thermometers read in 15 seconds or less.
Temp-N-Toss thermometers launched in all 1,700 Target stores nationwide in April. A package contains six paper thermometers.
Tempagenix was then invited to Walmart’s Open Call event in June, where small businesses and entrepreneurs can pitch their U.S.-manufactured products to the chain’s buyers. The aisle Walmart wants to stock Temp-N-Toss already has been set for this year, but buyer’s asked Heller and Pollock to touch base with them again in December when they reevaluate the layout.
Pollock and Heller also met with Kroger last Thursday to discuss launching Temp-N-Toss in its grocery stores. Tempagenix won Kroger’s Top Innovation Award at the 2019 Kroger Supplier Inclusion Innovation Summit.
Being on store shelves is critical for sales, Pollock said. On Walmart.com, Tempagenix sold only a handful of packages each week. Within their first eight weeks on Target shelves, an average of more than 600 were sold at the store each week with no advertising.
“You have a sick kid, you’re standing there getting their medicine … And then you’re like, ‘Do I have a thermometer? I don’t know where it is. I’ll just buy another one,’” Heller said.
Tempagenix doesn’t control the price of Temp-N-Toss, which retails for $9.99 at Target and $13.99 on Amazon.
Every company involved in the production of Temp-N-Toss is located in Ohio, and four of the six are in the Dayton area. Four of the suppliers are also women-owned.
Cincinnati-based Evolution Creative Service prints the labels; Rohrer Corp. in South Solon produces the blister packs for the packaging; and CAVU Group manufactures the thermometers.
Better Living, a Dayton company that hires individuals with disabilities to help assemble products for area companies, folds the packaging and sorts the thermometers. Better Living can package 25,000 thermometers in five to seven days, Heller said.
Then the packages are shipped to Columbus to Auld Technologies for a heat seal; once they’re returned to Dayton, Allied Shipping & Packaging Supplies provide warehouse space and handles fulfillment for Walmart.com, Amazon and Target.
C-3 Group also does branding, advertising and promotion for the product.
“We’re kind of focused on bringing the innovation back to Dayton because we’re known for that,” Heller said. “We’re hoping to grow and employ people and we know that our product will employ people.”
As the company expands, Heller and Pollock said their biggest priorities are keeping every part of Temp-N-Toss production in the area, including creating jobs by bringing some of the outsourced pieces internal. The owners are the only two employees of the company, besides a contract employee in the warehouse. Every other person works for a contractor.
Within the next year they hope to hire one to two people to manage the company as the business grows. Tempagenix is working now on the next version of Temp-N-Toss and is also considering new products to expand the business.
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