Category Archive: Blog Post

Financial Analyst

Posted on June 13th, 2018, by Bell International Laboratories in Job Post


  • Work with CFO, CEO, and leadership to provide analysis on cost savings
  • Responsible for budgeting and forecasting process for Manufacturing Operations
  • Responsible for month-end process to analyze actual results that include financial statement line items and expense detail versus budgets, plans, and forecasts, and explain variances for the understanding of all business partners
  • Prepare financial statement/select balance sheet flux analysis and provide detailed explanations for external auditors
  • Prepare monthly financial reporting packages for internal management review
  • Conduct monthly financial review meetings with business partners, including executive management
  • Determine cost reduction efforts and reporting
  • Prepare Capital Equipment Return on Investment (ROI) Analytics for executive management review
  • Assist with special projects as requested

Requires a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, Accounting, Business Administration, or a related field, and 2 years of experience in finance or business operations. Must possess 1 year of experience in finance or cost accounting; 1 year of experience with using Microsoft Excel for preparing financial statements, balance sheets, budgeting, and other financial analysis; and 1 year of experience using financial concepts and ratios, such as profitability ratios, ROI, and asset turnover.

Please send your resume to Natasha Saremi at


Minnesota 2nd best state, per U.S. News & World Report

Posted on February 28th, 2018, by Bell International Laboratories in Blog Post

Bell International Laboratories is proud to be Minnesota-based. We love to live and work here!

Author: KARE
Published: 1:00 PM CST February 27, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Minnesota is the second best state in the country according to the 2018 Best States study from U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. News evaluated all 50 states across a range of criteria, from education and health care to infrastructure and the economy, to capture how states best serve their citizens.

Minnesota ranked in the top 10 among four categories: quality of life (2nd); opportunity (3rd), infrastructure (6th) and health care (7th). Other rankings included: crime and corrections (11th); education (13th); economy (20th) and fiscal stability (24th).

The rankings are based on the McKinsey & Company’s Leading States Index. In determining the weights of the eight categories in the rankings, U.S. News and World Report says it used two years of data from McKinsey’s “citizen experience” survey, which asked more than 30,000 people to prioritize each subject in their state and provide levels of satisfaction with government services.

Health care and education remain the most highly weighted factors in the methodology, followed closely by the economy.

Minnesota ranked No. 3 overall in the study last year.

Iowa ranked No. 1 overall in 2018. North Dakota and Wisconsin rank No. 4 and No. 11, respectively.


Happi: FDA Is Getting Personal

Posted on January 9th, 2018, by Bell International Laboratories in Blog Post

Warning letters reiterate Agency priorities, target consumer reviews and trigger consumer class actions.
Authors: Raqiyyah Pippins and Krithika Santhanam
Click here for Original story on

By now, it is no secret that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is monitoring personal care product marketing and using warning letters to remind companies of what causes a product to be a drug in the United States. Since 2012, FDA has issued several warning letters highlighting its position that many popular claims promising anti-aging or other skin improvement benefits cause the products to be drugs under the Federal, Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FDCA).2As a result, many personal care product companies already contemplate the risk of receiving an FDA warning letter when contemplating the risk profile for product claims. A review of FDA enforcement in 2017 indicates that companies should continue to do so. As detailed here, however, two other risks should also be considered: one, FDA’s scrutiny of consumer reviews, and two, an increase in demand letters from private litigants seeking recovery for alleged unapproved drug claims under state law.

FDA Regulation in Personal Care

As background, the past few years have been marked with an increase in scrutiny of personal care products by FDA, including FDA efforts to define the regulatory boundaries governing different classes of personal care products and clarify the regulatory distinction between cosmetics and drugs. After hinting to industry in 2011 that it intended to monitor the category, FDA issued a series of warning letters in 2012 emphasizing its concerns regarding the use of hair removal, ant-aging and blemish removal related claims for products labeled as cosmetics, asserting its position that such claims cross the “lines” for cosmetic products and cause such products to be drugs under the FDCA. From 2013 to 2016, FDA re-affirmed its position regarding the types of beautification claims that it considers to be drug claims, while also highlighting some new areas for consideration: specifically, the regulatory lines governing beautification devices, personal care products for diseased populations and third-party contractors.

FDA’s classification of a personal care product matters because it can significantly impact the regulatory standards governing the product’s manufacturing, marketing and labeling.   Products classified as OTC drugs must either receive pre-market approval by FDA or conform to FDA monographs—essentially an FDA-approved formula for a drug product. In contrast, while cosmetic manufacturers are responsible for ensuring product safety, products classified as cosmetics do not need to obtain pre-market FDA approval or conform to a specified pre-approved FDA formula.

How FDA categorizes a personal care product is determined, in part, by what FDA concludes to be the manufacturer’s  “intended use” for the product. Among other things, FDA reviews product covers (e.g., advertisements, websites, labeling and ingredient statements) as evidence of a product’s intended use. Products marketed with drug claims, claims that a product is “intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and/or intended to affect the structure or any function of the body,” without pre-market approval by FDA or conforming to FDA monographs are considered “unapproved new drugs” and cannot be legally marketed in the US.

FDA Targets Consumer Reviews
In previous years, claims that a personal care product affects the physical structure of the skin or provides recognized benefits commonly associated with drug products have been flagged as drug claims by FDA. This trend continued in 2017. FDA issued three warning letters alleging that claims to lighten or even skin tone, stimulate skin regeneration or “new skin cell production” or “promote cellular generation” are drug claims because they purportedly describe physiological effects on the structure or function of the body that are reserved for “drug” products under the FDCA.

FDA also sent 10 warning letters to companies that touted recognized medicinal benefits for products labeled as cosmetics  (e.g., “antiviral,” “antimicrobial,” “anti-inflammatory,” “immunostimulant,” and “wound healing”).  For instance, in its July 2017 warning letter to Irie Star, LLC, FDA took the position that the company’s claim that the organic Tamanu oil in the Flawless – Equalizing Anti-Blemish Oil Serum is proven to have “antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and skin rebuilding properties” establishes the product containing the ingredient as an unapproved new drug under the FDCA “intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease and/or articles intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body.”6 Similarly, FDA’s February 2017 warning letter to Aegeia Skin Care, LLC  alleged that claims that the chamomile flower in the company’s Nourishing Clay Mask has “anti-inflammatory properties” and can be used to “encourage digestion and boost the immune system,” cause the mask to be a drug.­­

A new addition to FDA’s enforcement priorities, however, has been its focus on consumer reviews and testimonials. Because classification of a product as a “drug” vs. a “cosmetic” is centered on the manufacturer’s intended use for the product, there is, at times, a misconception that consumer reviews and testimonials present lower risk of FDA taking the position that a product is a drug.

FDA’s December 2016 warning letter to Healthy Habits, LLC hinted that FDA may primarily rely on consumer reviews and testimonials as evidence that a personal care product is intended for use as a drug. According to FDA’s warning letter, Healthy Habits’ DermaTox ointment product page on the company website includes consumer testimonials touting that the product helped with “Diabetes related skin conditions,”  “severe shingles,” and “sunburns or any kind of burn.”

FDA’s 2017 warning letter to Moon Valley Natural Products reiterated FDA’s position on consumer reviews by including a section in the letter in which FDA specifically listed what it considered to be evidence of the manufacturer’s  intended use for its personal care products  “in the form of personal [consumer] testimonials recommending or describing the use of products for the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.”These warning letters serve as a reminder that customer reviews and testimonials can play a material role in FDA’s position regarding a company’s intended use for a product and, as a result, companies should consider monitoring the testimonials and reviews on their product websites to determine whether they include claims that can trigger FDA enforcement or, as discussed below, class action litigation.

Class Action Complaints
Historically, many companies have made business decisions about whether to promote personal care products with claims that FDA may consider to be drug claims based on a belief that the only material risk associated with such use is an FDA warning letter. Recent class action litigation, however, indicates that the risk to the company is not limited to FDA enforcement.

Importantly, each state has what is often referred to as a “mini-FDCA” that mirrors the FDCA and some state unfair and deceptive advertising practice (UDAP) statutes provide consumers with a private right of action to challenge the use of promotional strategies that violate the state’s mini-FDCA. In recent years, the plaintiffs’ bar has sought to recover damages from personal care product companies based on an allegation that FDA’s position that certain claims cause a personal care product to be an unapproved drug causes a product to violate the state’s UDAP statute. Indeed, within the past five years, dozens of class action complaints have been filed alleging that personal care product advertising is deceptive because it includes unapproved drug claims as defined by FDA warning letters issued to other companies that alleged that similar claim language constituted an unapproved drug claim.

For example, in March 2017, Revlon entered into a $900,000 settlement that involved allegations that the company’s products were marketed with unapproved drug claims.10   In pertinent part, plaintiffs alleged that “Revlon markets the Age Defying DNA Advantage Products as cosmetics . . . [b]ut the Age Defying DNA Advantage Products are also drugs because an intended use of the products, as repeatedly demonstrated throughout Revlon’s packaging, advertising and marketing materials, is to affect the structure and function of the human body, specifically, DNA with human skin.”11 After alleging that Revlon made unsupported representations that the products “Help[] protect skin’s DNA to fight signs of aging,” “Targets undereye puffiness, dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles,” and “[H]elps skin to feel conditioned and look luminous, minimizing the appearance of discoloration due to the signs of aging[,]”12 the plaintiffs further alleged that the company’s claims were deceptive under state law because they contained unapproved drug claims.  As support for their position, the plaintiffs cited a 2008 FDA Warning Letter to Natural Biology, Inc. in their complaint in which FDA alleged that products marketed with similar representations were unapproved new drugs.

Similarly, in December 2016, a lawsuit was filed against Sunday Riley Modern Skincare alleging that the company’s Bionic Anti-Aging cream was marketed with unapproved drug claims.14 In particular, the plaintiffs alleged that the product, which has not been approved by FDA to be marketed as a drug, was promoted with the alleged drug claims: “[l]oaded with active ingredients that help to extend the lifespan of your skin” and “Highly active CoQ10, transreveratrol, biopeptides, copper peptides, centella asiatica, + EGCG (from green tea) help support healthy collagen growth and fight the effects of skin aging caused by UV exposure.”

According to the complaint, these claims purport that the product “functions as a skin-altering drug, not as a mere cosmetic” and serve to market the product “as if it were an FDA approved drug that could change the physical structure and function of skin itself.”

What Does It Mean?

The increased regulatory and litigation risk associated with FDA scrutiny of personal care products serves as an important reminder to companies that FDA is scrutinizing both claims made by companies and by consumers posted on the company website to determine the intended use for personal care products and that the implications of permitting a personal care product to be promoted with claims that FDA may consider to be reserved for drugs can extend beyond an FDA warning letter.

With this in mind, companies may want to consider expanding their marketing strategies to include a periodic review of the latest FDA warning letters to personal care product companies to stay abreast of the different types of claims considered by FDA to reflect intended drug uses and their hosted platforms to determine whether customer testimonials or reviews tout benefits that FDA has publicly deemed to reflect an intended drug use.

Taken together, these steps can help personal care product companies to more accurately assess the risk associated with a proposed marketing strategy and limit the risk that personal care product marketing will lead to unanticipated personal care product company liability.


Star Tribune: A CEO Who Listens to His Employees

Posted on July 26th, 2017, by Bell International Laboratories in Blog Post

Having an owner who listens to his employees pays off big for Eagan skin-care business

Mo Saremi is an Iranian immigrant and scientist.

He’s also a grateful American entrepreneur who finally has hit his business stride.

“My vision has always been to create a big, profitable, niche organization in health and beauty products,” said Saremi, 57, at his expanding Eagan plant. “I really wasn’t successful until five years ago.”

The hard work, hustle and humility has started to pay off.

Saremi’s Bell International Laboratories of Eagan relocated last year to a spacious Eagan complex from two small plants in Minneapolis. In June, the health and beauty products company broke ground on a second Eagan facility.

Bell Labs, which added 100 good-paying jobs over the last year in research, manufacturing and marketing, expects to add another 50 by the end of 2017, bringing employment to about 300.

Saremi expects the company to grow profitably from $50 million in revenue this year to $75 million next year.

The secret sauce?

Bell Labs, with fewer than 100 employees only three years ago, started to focus increasingly on the lucrative natural-ingredient market for skin care that has fueled rapid growth since 2015 as the U.S. market followed the European trend of fewer synthetic chemicals in cosmetics, sun screens and other lotions.

“In five years, we would like to be more than $250 million in revenue,” Saremi said. “And I’m starting to see the next generation here starting to take over for me.”

Bell Labs manufactures high-end products for unspecified brand-name skin-care companies that are sold at retailers such as Target, Costco, Whole Foods, CVS, Kowalski’s and specialty stores.

“They are mineral-based and plant-based,” Saremi said. “And we also manufacture traditional sun-care products with chemicals. Our biggest area is organic, enviro-friendly products. They are not commodity products. And they are more expensive.”

That creates a wider profit margin that has enabled Saremi to reinvest as annual sales growth topped 20 percent in recent years.

Jim Vathing, a senior vice president at Anchor Bank, has banked Saremi since he bought the assets of a failing former client, International Beauty Labs, for $200,000 in the early 1990s.

Saremi and a silent equity partner expanded production of two skin-care products that worked, added related products, pushed revenue to $5 million and sold the company.

Vathing, then with another bank, watched Saremi use creativity, gumption and elbow grease, plus listening to employees, to resurrect the near-bankrupt company.

“Mo started making some money after a couple years at that little company,” Vathing said. “He listened and learned a lot. It grew, and he and his partner sold it.”

Bell Labs launched in 1995. But it struggled for years to find its focus.

Saremi bought out his partner in about 2003 after they differed over Bell’s future.

“That allowed Mo to really start investing and growing,” Vathing said. “He’s really focused on value-added products for substantial companies in the lotion and sunscreen world. They compensate for the value that Bell has added. Now, he selects the companies with which he wants to deal.

“Mo also is a good chemist, a good business negotiator and a good operator. His people are really important to him and he treats them right. He doesn’t have much staff turnover.”

Hiring and retaining good people is critical to Bell Labs’ success, Saremi said.

Saremi pays high-end wages and benefits, including paid leave and in-office yoga, health and wellness classes during work hours.

Most importantly, he says, is that he listens to employees informally and at regular meetings where he shares operational and financial results, even though he owns 100 percent of the company.

“You share things with family,” Saremi said of Bell employees. “We’ve made car loans and make pay advances when people need the money. I understand these things because I, in my career earlier, have also been in need. These things have happened to me.

“I remember when I was young and had a good idea at other companies and no one listened,” Saremi said. “I listen to them.”

Saremi is starting to think about succession and ownership transfer over the next decade.

He will slowly increase his time and attention to a growing interest in philanthropy, largely focused on female education, including in the Middle East where women often have fewer rights.

Saremi was born to a family of privilege in an Iran ruled by the late Shah of Iran, who was overthrown by the hard-line religious revolution of 1978. Saremi’s late father and uncle were high-ranking military officers in the army and not hard-line Islamists.

“My family went from top to bottom during the revolution,” recalled Saremi.

Saremi, a talented student of 18 in 1978, was stripped by the Iranian government of the full scholarship he had to study chemistry at private Hofstra University in New York.

A cousin who had married a woman in Mankato told him about the growing international student program at Minnesota State University, Mankato that today amounts to about 15 percent of the student body.

“I came to Mankato with no money,” recalled Saremi. “But the university admitted me and gave work to me and other students with financial difficulty.”

Saremi earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry from Mankato. He worked for nearly a decade for a small company, as a lab manager in chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota and as a consultant before starting Bell Labs.

In a recent chat with employees, Saremi discussed reasons behind Bell’s commitment to green chemistry, organic compounds and doing away with aerosol sprays, environmental moves that have been embraced by growing ranks of customers over the years.

“With air-based aerosol or continuous spray technology, you can have a consistent spray that isn’t pressurized and has no propellant gases,” he later blogged on an employee website.

Later, after a conversation with two chemists, Saremi made mental notes about some promising research.

“They really have good ideas,” Saremi said. “It pays to listen.”


Senior Research and Development Chemist

Posted on July 19th, 2017, by Natasha Saremi in Job Post

A Senior Research and Development Chemist combines technical knowledge and innovation when formulating a variety of personal care products, cosmetics and OTC (lip balms and sun screens) from concept to finished product based on customers’ requests. Ability to look at different brands gaps and develop products based on those gaps or customer specification.

The requirements and responsibilities for a Senior Research and Development Chemist are:

· Experienced personal care researcher responsible for initiating project concepts, developing objectives, plans, assigning priorities and completing multiple projects under limited supervision. Independently investigates/resolves research problems/scale up issues.

· Ability to communicate with customers on technical aspects as well as regulatory and performance.

· Utilize and follow relevant legal requirements, regulations and product development standards

· Determine and perform appropriate cost reductions (raw materials)

· Scale-up of approved formulations, to include identification of critical process variables.

· Ability to trouble shoot production issues and address batch variations.

· Set product specifications and write compounding procedures.

· Supervise and coordinate pilot batches

· Provide paperwork for new formula and new raw materials to operations

· Provide specifications and other information to QC to receive and test new ingredients and finished goods

· Research product formulations and properties and interactions of raw materials.

· Vendor research for raw materials

· Interpret results of laboratory findings and assess risks involved in new products, and communicate findings to sales and upper management

· Remain up to date and current on trends in the retail market and trends on formulations materials, ingredients, etc.

· Training and supervising technicians and temporary employees

· Working knowledge of FDA regulations, and cGMPs

· Notebook documentation

· Other duties as assigned

Job Requirements

· BS in Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or related sciences with 4 to 6 years of formulating personal care products.

· Good problem solving and decision making skills. Displays a sense of urgency and initiative with creativity and flexibility.

· Excellent communication (verbal, written), interpersonal and presentation skills

· Demonstrates leadership skills.


Bell Labs Exceeds Jobs Projections, Announces Even More Jobs, and Expands Campus Again

Posted on June 28th, 2017, by Bell International Laboratories in Blog Post

Press Release
For Immediate Release

John Komarek

Bell Labs Exceeds Jobs Projections, Announces Even More Jobs, and Expands Campus Again

Eagan, MN – Minnesota-based contract manufacturer Bell International Laboratories continues to exceed expectations and expand in every measurable direction.

“Due to the ever-growing demand for Organic Health & Beauty products, we projected a large growth, and now we plan for even more.” Bell Labs CEO Mo Saremi said.

Not only did Bell Labs meet its projection to add 100 jobs, but it also achieved this in less than six months. Today, the company announces that it expects to add 50 more jobs before the end of the 4th Quarter.

“We are far from done with the work to expand Bell Labs.” CEO Saremi said. “Not only do we expect to employ up to 300 people by the end of 2017, but we will add an additional 100,000 sq. ft. to our Eagan Campus.”

By the end of this next physical expansion, Bell Labs will have nearly tripled the size of its Facility from 75,000 sq. ft. in Minneapolis to 220,000 sq. ft. in Eagan.

To commemorate this achievement, Saremi will ceremoniously hang up the very sledgehammer used to usher in construction at their new site. Signatures of his employees – many of whom have been with him since day one – will cover every square inch, from hilt to head.

“Together, we have put Bell Labs at the top of the Health & Beauty industry.” Saremi said. “And, we will not rest on our laurels.”





Star Tribune: Cosmetics maker Bell Labs expands again in Eagan, adding 50 jobs

Posted on June 28th, 2017, by Bell International Laboratories in Blog Post

Star Tribune June 24, 2017 — 12:08am

The company’s growth is spurred by demand for natural and organic skin-care products.

Bell International Laboratories of Eagan broke ground Friday on its second plant and jobs expansion in a year.

The company, which manufacturers organic health and beauty products for name-brand manufacturers, moved last year from two small plants in Minneapolis to a large facility in an Eagan industrial park.

Bell Labs has added 100 jobs in the last 12 months and intends to add another 50 this year.

“We are far from done with the work to expand Bell Labs,” said Mo Saremi, founder and chief executive. “We expect to employ up to 300 Minnesotans by the end of 2017 [and] add an additional 100,000 square feet to our Eagan campus.”

Saremi, an Iranian-American chemist who studied at Minnesota State University, Mankato, started Bell in 1996, after working as a chemist at other companies.

Two years ago, his firm employed about 80 people.

But it started to focus on the lucrative natural-ingredient market for skin care that has fueled rapid growth since 2015 as the U.S. market followed the European trend of fewer synthetic chemicals in cosmetics.

Saremi said Bell will post revenue of $50 million this year and approach $75 million in 2018. “Sun care is a very big part of our business and people want natural products that are not synthetic, active-ingredient chemicals,” he said.

He said the company handles manufacturing for most of the sun-care products seen in retailers like Whole Foods. The company has spent heavily on research and innovation to develop the higher-margin natural products.

“They are mineral-based and plant-based,” Saremi said. “And we also manufacture traditional sun-care products with chemicals. Our biggest area is organic, enviro-friendly products. They are not commodity products. And they are more expensive.”

That creates a wider profit margin that has enabled Saremi to reinvest in new products and personnel.


Ingredient Ideas for your next Organic Product

Posted on April 12th, 2017, by Bell International Laboratories in Blog Post

When formulating an Organic product, the Organic ingredient you select can provide you with a marketing advantage.

Consider these ingredients in your next Organic product:

  • Coconut Oil
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Pure Honey
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Avocado
  • Sea Salt
  • Argan Oil
  • Lemon Essential Oil
  • Aloe Vera
  • Almond Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Shea Butter
  • Jojoba Oil

Contact us to talk about how you can incorporate Organic ingredients into your next product.


Don’t Mislead, Be Verifiably Organic

Posted on April 12th, 2017, by Bell International Laboratories in Blog Post

Every year, thousands of products attempt to give themselves the product claim of “Organic” when it’s misleading at best, and completely incorrect at worst.

This is not good for your product, brand, and company. Misleading and incorrect claims are quickly discovered by regulatory agencies. Consumer watchdog organizations like EcoWatch and neighborhood bloggers spread the word about your products misleading or incorrect claim. You can face legal issues, and see sales drop. It’s simply not worth the risk.

You can achieve an Organic status for your product through a partnership an NSF Certified Organic Facility like Bell International Laboratories. We ensure that the proper procedures, paperwork, sourced ingredients all adhere to regulatory standards.

Through a strategic partnership, we can plan out a truly Organic product that will keep your consumers happy and be regulatory agency-friendly.


Conversation with the CEO: Taking a small step into the green market.

Posted on April 12th, 2017, by Bell International Laboratories in Blog Post

We sat down with Mo Saremi to talk about one simple way to start entering the green market.

INSIDE BELL: It seems that the green, environmentally friendly market in health & beauty is only growing. How can a company break into this market?

MO SAREMI: As an NSF Certified Organic Facility, we recommend sourcing and formulating 100 percent organic products. This takes time to complete, but the customers seeking the verified ingredients will become loyal purchasers.

IB: But what if I’m not quite ready to go 100 percent Organic? Is there anything I can do to show my customer that I have environmental considerations?

MO: There are many ways, but one I’ll recommend is dropping any product that uses aerosol spray. The gases can have an environmental impact, and the contents must be put under pressure, which can cause problems in shipping or worse yet in the consumer’s hand through accidental explosions.

IB: So I can’t have spray products anymore?

MO: Not at all! With air-based aerosol or Continuous Spray technology, you can have a consistent spray that isn’t pressurized and has no propellant gases. We can formulate and fill many types of products in Continuous Spray packaging. And, with continuous spray, you can begin to take a step towards environmentally friendly products. Your customers will take notice, and you may start to attract new ones.

IB: That sounds pretty easy, and a simple way to start being a little greener.

MO: It’s definitely a start. The next step is to review and revise your formulations to see how you can make them more organic.