Henkel unveiled its two newest research and development facilities on Jan. 26 — one at its Stamford headquarters and the other 27 miles away in Trumbull.
At 4 Trefoil Drive, the R&D will be for the company’s beauty care as well as its laundry and home care divisions. At its 200 Elm St. headquarters, space has been set up for consumer goods research.
Thomas Müller-Kirschbaum, corporate senior vice president for R&D laundry and home care, said the decision to build another research facility in Trumbull — where the company also has a laundry and home care facility at 30 Trefoil Drive — was made on Aug. 8, 2016, just a few weeks before Henkel announced it was relocating its North American headquarters from Scottsdale, Arizona to Stamford.
“We needed a bigger lab close by,” Müller-Kirschbaum said. “The idea was to have a campus.”
Although the two Trefoil Drive buildings are on either side of the Lakewood-Trumbull YMCA at 20 Trefoil, they are situated in such a way that a footbridge is being built between them that crosses over a small creek to allow employees to safely travel back and forth. Charles Crawford, head of R&D for Henkel’s laundry and home care division in North America, said the bridge should be finished by March to coincide with 4 Trefoil’s becoming fully operational.
The new 27,000-square-foot, two-story building will house about 15 employees, while “close to 100” work at 30 Trefoil, he said.
The Trumbull location includes product formulation laboratories, a consumer product and fragrance evaluation center, packaging design and two pilot plants that support production scale-up capabilities for the beauty care and laundry divisions.
Crawford said that the consumer center is of particular importance to Henkel, and that the company expects “a couple hundred consumers a week” to visit and give their feedback on potential new products and alterations to existing ones. Consumer products developed by the division include Persil ProClean, All, and Purex laundry detergents; Snuggle fabric conditioners; and Renuzit air-care products.
Crawford said that the decision to maintain a presence in Trumbull, rather than move everything to Stamford, was due in part to the fact that Sun Products, which Henkel acquired in 2016, had established 30 Trefoil as its R&D center in 2009.
“We looked at the talent we already had, and the potential talent in this area, and felt that it made sense to stay in Trumbull,” he said.
Thomas Förster, corporate vice president for R&D beauty care, said that residents in the Trumbull area had long proven “that it was possible and feasible to find very experienced people with the skill sets we needed.”
Although Henkel declined to say how much the new Trumbull and Stamford facilities cost, Trumbull First Selectman Vicki Tesoro said the company had made a “significant investment.”
The company also donated a sustainably sourced playground at the Trumbull Nature and Arts Center in 2009 and participates in charitable and civic events in town, Crawford said.
The 24,000-square-foot Stamford R&D facility employs about 40 people and has a formulation lab that develops Henkel’s beauty care products such as Dial, Right Guard and Tone, as well as the clinical testing lab Research@Elm.
“The proximity of our labs to our marketing teams encourages collaboration and enables us to ensure all of our beauty care brands benefit from our advanced technologies and scientific expertise,” said Martina Spinatsch, vice president of R&D for Henkel’s beauty
Research@Elm recruits local participants to test the company’s antiperspirants, hand soaps, body washes, hair products, lotions, and hand sanitizers. Registrants are compensated for their participation. The company noted that those interested can register at researchatelm.com.