VWR International

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VWR, Part of Avantor
IndustryScientific products distributor
HeadquartersRadnor, Pennsylvania,
Key people
Michael Stubblefield
ProductsChemicals, protective clothing, research equipment, specialized laboratory furniture [1]
ServicesLaboratory services, clinical and biorepository services, procurement services [2]
Revenue$4.38 Billion (2014) [3]
Number of employees
Over 12,000 worldwide

VWR International is an American company involved in the distribution of research laboratory products, with over 1,200,000 items to more than 250,000 customers in North America and Europe. The U.S. division is headquartered in Radnor, Pennsylvania. VWR ranked #91 in 2006, and #77 in 2005, in Forbes list of largest American private companies.[4] Suppliers include Applied Scientific, 3B Scientific Duracell, Kimberly-Clark, Bel-Art Products, and Welch Allyn.[5] VWR primarily serves the government, biotechnology, life science, education, electronics and pharmaceutical sectors. In 2010, the company maintained operations in 25 countries and processed approximately 50,000 order lines daily from a logistical network, which includes 25 strategically located distribution centers.[6]


VWR was formed in the late 1920s by George Van Waters and Nat Rogers as a small chemical company.[7] Since then, the company evolved to focus on the laboratory market, it also has a presence in the cleanroom, safety, and clinical markets.

VWR owns a group of companies under the unofficial umbrella "VWR Education." These companies include Science Kit and Boreal Laboratories and Edmund Scientific Corporation. In August 1989, VWR purchased Wards's Science and Sargent-Welch Scientific Company.[8]

In September, 1995, VWR completed their purchase of Baxter's Industrial division, creating a much larger company; the capital was primarily obtained from Merck KGaA, a German chemical manufacturer (known as EMD Chemicals in the U.S. and Canada) who later purchased VWR and merged them with Merck Eurolab, creating a global laboratory distributor. In 2004, VWR became a limited partnership controlled by investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

In 2007, CD&R sold VWR to another private equity company, Madison Dearborn Partners.

In 2010, VWR moved its world headquarters to Radnor, Pennsylvania.

On June 1, 2011 VWR International acquired BioExpress Corp (formerly ISC BioExpress), raising concerns of monopolization of the laboratory supplies sector along with Thermo Fisher Scientific.[9]

Controversy has arisen about a 2010 decision by VWR to close its unionized Brisbane, CA distribution center, moving operations to a non-unionized Visalia, CA facility; this facility has now voted in the union for equal pay for equal work. They pay the Material Handlers $10 an hour when the other distribution centers start at a much higher rate. VWR will not allow this facility to be unionized and will not work out a contract.[10][11][12]

On October 2, 2014, VWR's IPO raised $536 million, valuing the value of the company at close to $5 billion.[13]

In January 2016, VWR acquired Therapak Corporation, an assembler and distributor of medical convenience kits with locations in Claremont, CA, Buford, GA, Hayes, UK and Skalice, CZ.

In April 2017, VWR acquired MESM Ltd., a provider of laboratory and medical equipment and supplies for use in clinical trials worldwide [14]. VWR acquired two other companies earlier in the year, EPL Archives and Seastar Chemicals [15]

On May 5, 2017, it was announced that Avantor, a Center Valley, Pa.-based supplier of ultra-high-purity materials to the life sciences and advanced technology industries, would acquire VWR for $33.25 in cash per share of VWR common stock, reflecting an enterprise value of approximately $6.4 billion.[16]

On November 21, 2017, Avantor completed its acquisition of VWR.[17]


  1. ^ "Our Collection of VWR Brands - VWR". Us.vwr.com. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Our Services Portfolio - VWR". Us.vwr.com. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  3. ^ "VWR Corporation Reports Strong Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2014 Financial Results". VWR. March 4, 2015. Archived from the original on April 19, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  4. ^ "The Largest Private Companies". Forbes. November 9, 2006. Retrieved November 30, 2006.
  5. ^ Walker, T. "VWR International information". Hoover's. Retrieved November 30, 2006.
  6. ^ "VWR Funding, Inc Form 10-K". VWR International. December 31, 2011. Archived from the original on August 18, 2011. Retrieved May 2, 2011.
  7. ^ "Rogers, Nat (1898-1990)". Historylink.org. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Sargent-Welch History". Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "Lawmaker blasts Brisbane company's relocation plan". KGO-TV. May 13, 2011.
  11. ^ Scott, Julia (May 9, 2011). "Lawmakers blast Brisbane company's relocation plan". San Jose Mercury News.
  12. ^ Elk, Mike (June 7, 2012). "Tax Credits for New Jobs, but Really for Union Busting?". In These Times.
  13. ^ "UPDATE 1-Lab supplies provider VWR prices IPO below indicated price..." Reuters.com. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  14. ^ "VWR Acquires MESM Ltd". Prnewswire.com. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  15. ^ "VWR Acquires MESM Lab Medical Equipment". Bizjournals.com. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  16. ^ "VWR Enters into Definitive Agreement with Avantor". Prnewswire.com. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  17. ^ "Avantor® Completes Acquisition of VWR". Prnewswire.com. Retrieved 5 August 2018.

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