March 1, 2014 (Vol. 34, No. 5)

Wheaton Views the Concept of Labware and Consumables as Commodities as Anathema

Wheaton says it prides itself on bringing its customers solutions to everyday challenges by infusing its products with innovative features, transforming these products from labware and consumables to innovative tools for discovery, research, diagnostic packaging, and specialty pharmaceutical industries. According to the company, solutions are specially designed to enhance scientific, pharmaceutical, and diagnostic properties in the areas of cell culture, chromatography, and biobanking.

The Wheaton product line includes a wide variety of bioreactors, vials, ampules, bottles, incubators, stirrers, crimping devices, roller equipment, and other items. “My entire 35 year career I’ve fought the concept of ‘commodities’ in lab sciences,” Wayne L. Brinster, president and CEO, says. “Many of our products contain hidden technology that provides better results for our customers.”

Wheaton’s new CryoELITE® tissue vials are an example of how the company adds value. Designed for-purpose, the CryoELITE tissue vials have strong seals that minimize the moisture transfer during storage that leads to freezer burn and that prevent leakage even when inverted. The plastics are designed to withstand deep frozen temperatures without cracking, even during opening.

“The way our caps are threaded and where they are threaded (externally) makes them easy to use. They can be opened and closed with one hand,” Brinster points out. They also can maintain a secure closure during the freeze/thaw cycle within a temperature range of –156°C to 121°C. Those details are integral to preserving specimen quality.

“Many of these specimens are exquisite examples of a disease state, such as a chemo-naïve sample of ovarian cancer,” continues Brinster. “You owe it to the specimen to get as much information from it as possible.”

Wheaton’s engineers designed this vial from scratch, working in close collaboration with several leading biobanks to ensure the vial addressed their pain points. The first third-party endorsement of this product came from CryoXtract for use on its new CXT350 instrument. A co-promotion agreement has been signed, and CryoXtract recommends the Wheaton tissue vials to all new customers enabling scientists to access and re-access frozen tissue samples while preserving the frozen state of both the parent and cored sample aliquots.

An additional endorsement came from the director of a well-known Midwest biobank. “Biospecimens can be very sensitive to storage conditions,” he says. “High-quality containers are necessary to prevent leaching of contaminants from the container matrix, gas exchange leading to desiccation, as well as being amenable to downstream automation.”

Precleaned chromatography vials are another example of how value is added to labware. By minimizing background noise (specifically, pyrogens, ribonuclease, deoxyribonuclease, and endotoxins), these vials are particularly helpful for small samples and for samples with small differences, like vitamin deficiencies that are present at low amounts in serum.

“Our focus,” Brinster emphasizes, “is on understanding customers’ needs and creating products that solve those needs by incorporating value-added differences that pay for themselves and helps our customers do their jobs better.”

That expansion was helped by the December 2012 acquisition of MicroLiter, which supplies autosampler vials and consumables. “We’re adding new sizes and new products that support automation and increase ease of use.” Examples include designs that make it easier to put tops on the vials to make handling as quick and easy as possible.

“Our challenge for the next 5–10 years is to become a worldclass competitor,” Brinster says. “We’re a U.S. company with some market presence in Asia and Europe.” The goal, he says, is to balance those markets.

“We have to do things beyond our borders. Therefore, we’re multiplying our presence in Europe and Asia.”

The plan is to field Wheaton representatives who can talk directly with customers around the world. “When we have our own feet on the street, I get feedback more readily and we can address the market’s changing needs more rapidly driving future success and growth.”

Wheaton asserts that it can add value to products that once were considered commodities. For example, it produces vials that have outside-threaded caps and are made of plastics that can withstand extremely low temperatures without cracking.


Location: 1501 North 10th Street, Millville, NJ 08332

Phone: (856) 825-1100


Principal: Wayne L. Brinster, President and CEO

Number of Employees: 200–300

Focus: Wheaton specializes in designing and manufacturing plastic and glass containers with a wide range of closure systems and custom solutions to ensure the secure storage and delivery of sensitive materials and precious specimens.

Previous articleMedieval Feces Preserves the Microbiome’s Tale of Antibiotic Resistance
Next articleThe Top 25 Best-Selling Drugs of 2013