BY ETHAN FORMAN
PEABODY — When an ink and paint plant exploded in Danversport in 2006, it devastated the surrounding neighborhood and also blew out the windows of Doe & Ingalls chemical warehouse across the street.
Thanks to the efforts of local and state officials, and the safety practices of Doe & Ingalls, the operation was up and running a week later, said Todd Newsome, the company’s environmental, health, safety and security manager.
Now the business has moved to a new, state-of-the-art home — far from the densely settled industrial and residential neighborhood in Danvers. In the process, it revived a vacant industrial building in Peabody’s Centennial Park.
Last week, representatives of ThermoFisher Scientific, which acquired Doe & Ingalls a couple of years ago, joined local executives and workers to cut the ribbon on their new, 56,000-square-feet distribution facility in the former Boston Acoustics building at 300 Jubilee Drive. This massive building had been empty for approximately five years.
Company officials gave tours to customers and local and city officials. Also on hand were representatives of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, and Ann Struthers, director of strategic initiatives for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. State Rep. Leah Cole of Peabody even presented company officials with a citation from the House of Representatives.
“It’s a great example of adaptive reuse of a very large and unique building,” said Karen Sawyer, Peabody’s director of Community Development and Planning. “I think it will lend to bringing in further tenants and further interest in life sciences and advanced manufacturing. It’s great we have this kind of presence in Peabody.”
The facility is called the Northeast cGMP chemical distribution facility (cGMP stands for Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration). It consolidates two smaller Doe & Ingalls operations, the one in Danvers and one in Medford. About 25 workers are employed at the new facility.
The company invested $5 million to fit out the building, where it can store hazardous chemicals safely for customers and ship them out, ready to be used immediately on production lines.
Inside, chemicals in boxes or drums sit neatly shrink-wrapped on pallets on towering orange racks. The warehouse’s white floor looks clean enough to eat off. The floor was designed with subtle dips in the grade designed to isolate any spills.
There is a heavy emphasis on safety. The warehouse is climate-controlled with plenty of sprinklers located not only in the high ceilings but in the racks where chemicals are stored. All visitors to the facility come through an access-controlled front door. There is video surveillance inside, and visitors are escorted at all times.
In July 2013, ThermoFisher signed a 10-year lease with the building’s owner, Brookwood Financial Partners of Beverly, which acquired the building in 2009.
ThermoFisher Scientific, headquartered in Waltham, provides a variety of services and products for the life sciences industry and laboratory research. It has $17 billion in revenues and 50,000 employees in 50 countries, about 1,700 of them in the Bay State. It bought the much smaller Doe & Ingalls a couple of years ago for $175 million in cash.
Doe & Ingalls started in Massachusetts in the 1920s, company officials said, but is now headquartered in Durham, N.C., where it has a service center about the same size as the Peabody facility.
While ThermoFisher has been focused on serving the needs of life sciences research, Doe & Ingalls supplies production chemicals to manufacturers. It supplies both large companies and small ones, many of whom struggle to comply with environmental and safety regulations as they scale up production. Officials said the facility can help small companies be compliant with storage requirements.
Company officials said it makes sense to have a warehouse here, given the concentration of biotech, pharmaceutical, chemical and high-tech manufacturers in the area.
”We know the industries that I mentioned, specifically in the New England, Massachusetts area, are growing rapidly, and we specialize in services that will help them focus on what they do best,” said Spencer Todd, ThermoFisher vice president.
The company enjoyed a good working relationship with the city during the permitting process, both with city planners and the Peabody Fire Department, company officials said.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.