Check the shelves of any research (or mad) scientist and you'll likely find Sigma-Aldrich's chemical products. The company is a leading supplier of chemicals to research laboratories. It has more than 97,000 accounts, including labs involved in government and commercial research, for the more than 167,000 chemical and biochemical and 45,000 equipment products it offers. The business is divided into two segments: Research Chemicals (further divided into essentials, specialties, and biotech), and Fine Chemicals (for commercial applications). It operates in 40 countries, sells its wares worldwide, and manufactures about a third of its chemical products itself. State Farm Insurance owns about 12% of Sigma-Aldrich.
Sigma-Aldrich generates most of its sales from its Research Chemicals business, which includes bio-chemicals, organic chemicals, and reagents. The company's sales are divided among government institutions, nonprofits, universities, and pharmaceutical, diagnostic, and biotech companies. It also serves chemical companies, electronic companies, and hospitals.
Small orders from labs (averaging around $400 each) account for about 70% of the company's total net sales. Larger scale orders by the company's fine chemicals unit, SAFC, account for the remaining 30%. The SAFC business unit supplies organic chemicals and biochemicals used for manufacturing by pharmaceutical, biotechnology, industrial, diagnostic, and electronics companies.
To serve its customers, Sigma-Aldrich strives to maintain sufficient supplies of its products, routinely ship the same day of order, and provide prompt customer service. It also forms and maintains strategic alliances and distribution arrangements with partners to acquire, maintain, and increase its sales. It seeks growth both organically and through acquisitions.
The company posted sales of $2.5 billion in 2011, an increase of 10% over the previous year, driven both by organic growth and acquisitions. Net income rose 19%, to $457 million, on increased sales and favorable foreign currency exchange rates.
Sigma-Aldrich acquired Cerilliant Corporation in late 2010 in a move to boost its analytical chemistry portfolio. Texas-based Cerilliant provides some 2,800 products for the clinical diagnostics, environmental, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, forensic, and clinical toxicology markets.
The company also picked up Wyoming-based Resource Technology Corp. (RTC) in early 2011 to expand its analytical chemistry offerings. RTC's products also complement Sigma-Alrich's own brands of analytical reagents (Supelco and Fluka) and other offerings.
That same year, the company acquired Brazil-based Vetec Quimica Fina to strengthen its position in Latin America. Vetec supplies specialty chemicals for the academic and industrial markets and provides some 3,000 products that support research, development, and manufacturing. The combination will allow Sigma-Aldrich to broaden its Brazilian distribution channels.
In 2012 the company also acquired Maryland-based BioReliance, a global biopharmaceutical testing services company, for $350 million in cash. BioReliance provides toxicology and animal health testing to life science customers worldwide to help in drug development, manufacturing, and commercialization. The acquisition expands Sigma-Aldrich's product lines and technology platforms.