JPS Luncheon: Michael H. Ott, “Polysciences, Inc.—The First Fifty Years”

Michael H. Ott

Michael H. Ott

This installment of the Joseph Priestley Society (JPS) lecture series featured “Polysciences, Inc.—The First Fifty Years,” a keynote presentation by Michael H. Ott, president, CEO, and owner of Polysciences, Inc., of Warrington, Pennsylvania.


B. David Halpern started Polysciences, Inc., in his garage in 1961, supplying ultra-pure reagents to the electron microscopy sample-preparation market. Purchased in 1993 by Michael H. Ott, the company has continued on its niche-market path and now has sales of $26 million, 130 employees, and operations in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Germany. The excellent experience Ott gained from working in Rohm and Haas’s Polymers, Resins, and Monomers business in the United States, the Asia-Pacific region, and the Latin American region well prepared him for the niche-market strategy that has kept Polysciences going for 50 years. Ott discussed his experiences with first working at and then owning a small chemical company and preparing it for the next generation of ownership.

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About the Speaker

Michael H. Ott is the owner and operator of Polysciences, Inc., a diversified manufacturer of chemicals for the research, medical-device, electronic, and diagnostic markets. Ott graduated from the Purdue School of Chemical Engineering in 1973 and began his career with his co-op program employer, Rohm and Haas, in Philadelphia. 

As a technical sales representative assigned to Baltimore, Ott attended the University of Baltimore and obtained a degree in accounting, after which he became a certified public accountant. His next assignment was in Chicago, where he attended the University of Chicago and obtained his M.B.A. in finance, marketing, and accounting. In 1980 he moved to Auckland, New Zealand, where he was the sales manager for Rohm and Haas New Zealand. He became the Polymers, Resins, and Monomers divisional manager in 1982 for Rohm and Haas Mexico, headquartered in Mexico City. 

In 1985 Ott returned with his family to Philadelphia and began working with Polysciences, eventually purchasing the company from its founder in 1993. Ott has surrounded himself with Ph.D. chemists and chemical engineers for the development of new products for the specialty marketplace.

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