thermacell bug repellantDigging through your memory bank, it’s not very likely you will be able to go back 30 years and recall using a now-famous Thermacell bug-repelling unit back then. In the beginning, it wasn’t bug repellant that put Thermacell on the map, it was butane. “The butane cartridge is the core of Thermacell. It provides the power; it provides the heat,” said Allegra Lowitt, vice president of marketing for Thermacell.

For years the company made cordless products for a host of different companies. “Our parent company, the Schawbel Corporation, produced cordless curling irons and hair straighteners for every major brand—Conair, Revlon, etc. We also manufactured other products such as cordless glue guns and soldering irons,” Allegra recalled. Then the company was approached by S.C. Johnson Corporation to make a cordless mosquito repellant. Five years later, Thermacell was born. S.C. Johnson wanted the product to sell for less than $10. “We have 35 parts and pieces in a Thermacell, and the price simply wasn’t possible. In the end, S.C. Johnson went its way and ended up making a [bug-repelling] candle, and we ran with the Thermacell,” related Allegra.

It’s almost a misnomer to say that Thermacell is 30 years old, but it is celebrating an anniversary nonetheless. “The first Thermacell actually came to market in 2001. So while the company is 30 years old, we really feel like it is 10,” said Allegra.

The first Thermacell was decked out with Woodland camo and really got the market talking. However, some of the people weren’t talking, they were screaming for more. In 2006 Thermacell introduced a unit covered with Realtree camo. Next, the company came out with the Earth Scent pad. “Earth Scent was four years in the making. The problem was with the EPA. All of our products are EPA approved, but to give its approval, the EPA does not actually use the product, it just looks at the paperwork. They just didn’t seem to get Earth Scent,” Allegra laughed. Finally, after several back-and-forth conversations, Earth Scent was introduced at the 2008 ATA Show.

For 2011 Thermacell introduced a new light, holster and unit. “We collect a lot of feedback from prostaff members and users. One of the major design changes was inspired primarily by the archery community. The old on/off switch made a loud ‘thwack’ every time it was actuated,” Allegra explained. The solution was to develop a new turn dial design that is much quieter. A dampener was also installed under the switch to further reduce game-spooking noise.

The previous holster frustrated many users, especially the straps and snaps. Both the straps and snaps have been redesigned for 2011. A new light has also been added. The Swivel Light attaches to the Thermacell or it can be detached as the user prefers. The light has white and green LED modes and a handy hat adapter for hands-free operation.

(781) 541-6900; www.thermacell.com