That’s the promise of Thermacell. How we came to make that promise – and the mosquito repellents that deliver on it – is the story of Bill Schawbel and the talented group of people he brought together who shared his vision.
In the 1970’s, Bill was senior executive in a large consumer products company, Gillette. Bill was an entrepreneur at heart who had a passion for his work and a willingness to take risks. In 1981, Bill took a leap and bought a portion of the Gillette company that produced appliances and personal care devices, to run as his own.
That was the beginning of Thermacell.
Bill Schawbel and his team imagined a power source that would set people free to use powered devices wherever and whenever they wanted. In the era before lithium ion batteries, most consumer appliances needed a power cord. The solution was a portable, heat-based energy source. This innovation became the Thermacell Fuel Cartridge, utilizing butane to power a range of now cordless products.
From hair curlers to glue guns, soldering irons to baby bottle warmers, Bill’s team brought countless Fuel Powered cordless devices to market. And that did not escape the attention of another big consumer products company, SC Johnson, who turned to Bill to solve a major problem: fighting the mosquitoes that plague us all.
For four years, Bill and his development team, led by Jim Bonnema, worked with SC Johnson to perfect a heat activated mosquito repellent device. One by one, challenges emerged, and one by one, Bill and his team overcame them.
After four long years, Bill was ready to launch his product. SC Johnson wanted to delay, for additional rounds of market research. So he once again made the bold decision that he and his team would go at it alone, launching his product under the Thermacell name.
Soon after, the Thermacell Mosquito Repeller hit the market in 1999.
A portable, heat-activated repellent that was silent, scent-free, and invisible soon became a must have item for outdoor adventurers. Thermacell technology uses an innovative ignition and combustion system to disperse the highly effective repellent, creating a fifteen-foot zone of mosquito protection. But campsites and the backwoods were only the beginning. Soon, homeowners found Thermacell, and on warm summer evenings, families across America discovered that they could put the sprays and lotions away.
Our product line keeps growing as our technology keeps advancing. In 2018, we introduced Radius – the first rechargeable, battery-powered mosquito repeller. We also launched Tick Control Tubes, a more environmentally friendly way to safeguard families from ticks that carry Lyme disease.
As we enter our third decade of growth, our product line may grow and our technology may evolve, but our mission remains the same. In every product we provide, we seek to improve your life outdoors, freeing you to enjoy the great outdoors everywhere you are.
Bill Schawbel holds senior management positions with The Gillette Company
Bill Schawbel forms The Schawbel Corporation. He then takes the Gillette Appliance Division and Braun NA business private
Thermacell Butane Technology is developed and was used to power Thermacell personal care products introduced
Butane-powered curling irons manufactured and eventually sold in 20 countries
Engineer Jim Bonnema develops the first prototype of the Thermacell Mosquito Repellent system
Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Products first come on the market
Global distribution begins eventually reaching 30+ countries
Company moved to current Headquarters
Licensed Hair Care business to Conair
Redesign of original Portable Mosquito Repeller
Thermacell Mosquito Repellent business reinvigorated with significant new investment and personnel
Radius rechargeable repellers and Thermacell Tick Tubes introduced
Celebrated 20-year anniversary