Thermometer firms soars on COVID-era 1,600% revenue rise

What do you do when your company has won a 1,600% increase in annual revenue?

You keep going, of course.

That’s what April Pollock and Shelly Heller, the women behind Tempagenix LLC, have been and are doing. They formed the Moraine company in 2016, channeling the production of locally-made disposable paper thermometers that can be worn on one’s forehead for the retail and business-to-business markets.

As you might guess, in the COVID-19 era, the pair are facing an “onslaught” of orders.

Tempagenix was well established before the pandemic, shipping weekly to Target since April 2019 and filling orders for others.

COVID happened, and the whole world changed.

Said Heller: “To say the least, it was pretty remarkable.”

Some Dayton-area companies are finding ways to thrive amidst the pandemic — keeping employees on their payroll and even expanding.

In general, cleaning services, e-commerce and distribution businesses, groceries, liquor and wine outlets, game-producers and others are finding their niche in the pandemic.

Rising to the occasion, Tempagenix brought in $5.3 million revenue last year, a number that marks 1,600 percent in growth over revenue in 2019, Pollock said.

In May, CVS ordered the Tempagenix “Temp-N-Toss” thermometers, the disposable forehead thermometer that is the firm’s flagship product.

The CVS order: One case each to 4,600 stores.

The team went to work, anchoring themselves at Allied Shipping & Packaging Supplies, which Heller owns. The company also relies on packaging services with employees with Goodwill, Eastco and Better Living.

“We did it in less than four weeks,” Heller said.

The pair hired an office manager to help with the surge, but it was basically a three-person oversight effort.

Temporary help was also instrumental. “We were able to hire college kids,” Pollock said. “For a period of time, we had about 50 college kids working, sometimes six days a week with us, helping to assemble.”

Pollock owns Oregon District marketing firm C-3 Group.

It was a busy time. “All three of can’t remember April, May and June,” Heller said. “Needless to say, it was incredible.”

Tempagenix works with CAVU Group, a Moraine company whose brands include American Thermal Instruments. The company works in the business-to-business realm, which suited Tempagenix just fine.

The Moraine company makes the thermometers and ships them to Tempagenix, which is then responsible for assembly and packaging.

“They have been rock stars for us,” Heller said.

“They are an absolute great partner,” said Patti Blessing, vice president of sales and business development for CAVU Group. “And we’re so excited that we’re both Dayton-based companies supporting one another.”

The pandemic has kept CAVU quite busy as well. The company has operated in Dayton for 40 years, designing and developing products that detect and regulate temperature for customers in life sciences, health care and industry.

CAVU has about 80 employees, with about 10 hired in the past 11 months or so.

“It was a very busy year for us,” Blessing said.

Last spring, the Temp-N-Toss was the 13th most sold item at CVS, the Tempagenix owners said. And while the overall thermometer market has “evened out,” Tempagenix has inventory and there seems to be continued retail interest — the women say they have had “50 meetings” with retailers, including Meijer and Rite-Aid.

“The interest is high again” Heller said.

Pollock said the company is also offering bulk thermometers for business workforces, separate from retail offerings. And ahead, the owners say there will soon be a new product line, aimed specifically at the B2B market.

DDN