Peters Twp. couple expands Nova Biostorage Plus

Published Jan 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm (Updated Jan 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm)

Jim Mortimer’s business is going down the tubes. And that’s a very good thing.

Mortimer is president and chief executive officer of Nova Biostorage +, supplier of products that collect and store DNA, RNA and other materials. Its calling card is the tube, which comes in various sizes and holds that precious genetic material.

“Our customers are taking DNA and we supply all the tools to store it,” Mortimer said. “We have very little competition in what we do.”

Until recently, Nova had been known as Micronic North America. The name change is the result of an expansion of the company’s product offerings, Mortimer said. Nova is 10 years old and leased a facility in Crossroads Commons, Peters, before moving last fall into the new Ashwood Commons complex in North Strabane. There are 12 employees.

Mortimer and his wife, Dawn, Nova’s general manager, designed the building that they own at 1003 Ashwood Drive. It is one of three office condominiums that have been constructed at Ashwood Commons. Five more are planned on the 9.5-acre site, just north of Weavertown Road. The offices are chic – an eight-foot-tall cascading waterfall encased in glass, with the company name engraved greets you, and in the office to the left, there’s a light fixture symbolizing a DNA particle.

The tubes, Jim Mortimer said, are of “extremely high purity approved by the (Food and Drug Administration).” The polypropylene tubes are injection-molded in The Netherlands and assembled in Philadelphia before arriving in North Strabane. Some have bar codes on the bottom, and are encrypted into the plastic and cannot be damaged. He said that by adding biological reagents, DNA in these tubes can be stored at room temperature. There are specialty tubes, too, for light-sensitive samples.

Nova also supplies racks and caps for storage of the tubes, as well as reagents and products for sample collection, traceability, measurement and automation.

The company ships globally, but does most of its business in North and South America. Nova’s customers include “probably every pharmaceutical company in the country,” including Southpointe-based Mylan Inc., Mortimer said. Rutgers University is a major buyer. And a partial client list of medical schools is impressive: Johns Hopkins, Harvard, UCLA, Vanderbilt. The Mortimers also supply the National Institutes of Health, FBI, FDA, Smithsonian, forensic scientists, biotechnology and agricultural companies and other firms.

Mortimer was previously director of Fisher Scientific’s Life Science business. “My whole career I’ve been involved with laboratory sciences.”

That career began after he graduated from Washington & Jefferson College in 1976. Jim and Dawn – New York state guy and North Strabane girl – met there, married and were hired by Fisher, where she was the purchasing manager. They live in Peters.

Most of their employees are young and W&J alums as well. A number were student interns with Micronic a few years ago. Mortimer will likely have to hire more staff if the company grows – he would not commit to a number, but he made the point that “we built this for expansion.”

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