It was 1977 when Lawrence Flinn Jr. proposed an idea to his family―a risky idea that could jeopardize their security and his career. After working for two large laboratory supply companies, and being stonewalled in his attempts to convince them to provide better service and products for teachers, Lawrence’s passion for science education led to a courageous decision . . . to quit his executive job and start a new company.
As Lawrence’s oldest son, Larry Flinn III, remembers, “On the day I graduated from college, my dad said, ‘Larry, how would you like to start our own business?’ He had the vision to start a business that only focused on science teachers and their needs. And by golly, he put everything he owned at risk including his home and his pension. We borrowed money and went to work!”
With only three employees―Lawrence, his wife Margaret, and Larry―Flinn Scientific began in the basement of their home in Batavia, Illinois. Larry’s brother Patrick joined the company as soon as the business could support another partner.
Teachers recognized that Flinn Scientific was indeed different from other companies. Here was a family-owned business that truly put the needs of its customers first! The most critical need of all was laboratory safety. Flinn Scientific responded by providing safely packaged chemicals, free safety training and unique safety products. A teacher in Texas described Flinn’s leadership in promoting safety by writing, “Flinn alone has done more for safety in the science classrooms of America than legislators and educators combined.”
With teachers as their top priority, Flinn Scientific introduced significant “firsts” including:
Small, clearly labeled containers of chemicals to reduce the dangers of storage and spills
Concise Safety Data Sheets formatted for teachers
Chemical storage cabinets made of wood to withstand corrosion and fire
A system of safe chemical storage based on chemical compatibilit
Safety workshops, training, and online certification courses for teachers
The Flinn Scientific Catalogue/Reference Manual filled with helpful tips and ideas
A wealth of free resources available at www.flinnsci.ca
Flinn Scientific Canada was registered in 2015 as a sister company and established itself as a unique source for science education supplies by continuing the tradition of putting customers first, providing quality products, outstanding service, fast delivery, and safety leadership. Backing every single order is a team of individuals drawing on their own personal experience serving Canadian science teachers as well as almost 40 years of knowledge, support, and resources from our founding company.
The list of innovations continues to grow―and teacher associations from across the country have honored Flinn for its achievements. Teachers’ high regard for the company was expressed by William Hunter, Professor of Education at Illinois State University, who said about Flinn Scientific, “They have a reputation for being the most teacher-friendly supply company. Teachers trust them. Teachers rely on them.”