How partnering a Milford business means working for people with special needs

MILFORD – Business has grown 50% this year at Boost Oxygen as demand for its product has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, to help with the resulting expansion, the company is partnering with an agency that employs adults with special needs.

CEO and founder Rob Neuner said the company will partner with Kennedy Center Employment Services, and the first project will be to assemble display racks that will go to 200 Walmart stores as the company expands.

Neuner, who has a special place in his heart for people with autism and other special needs, said the job goes a long way in building self-esteem and a sense of purpose. The company will pay for the work, so it’s not about getting something for free, Neuner said.

“It’s a win-win,” said Neuner, whose late special-needs brother-in-law has become his close friend. The two did a lot of Special Olympics activities together.

Noah Engel from Southport is one of the employees in the Kennedy Employment Services building exhibit for Boost Oxygen, headquartered in Milford.

Contribution photo

Neuner said he recently visited the Kennedy Center and was warmed by the site of customers working on the assembly project.

“It’s heartwarming to see what they’re doing – it’s very special,” Neuner said.

Joan Nassef, Marketing and Employer Relations Manager at Kennedy Employment Services, said she was “thrilled” to partner with Boost Oxygen.

The center caters for the special needs of people of all ages with “intellectual, developmental, mental, physical and other disabilities,” he said online.

“It’s exciting to be a part of growing Boost’s business and it’s a great opportunity for our warehouse staff,” said Nassef.

“Every individual takes great pride in working on the construction of the displays and feels a sense of satisfaction seeing the finished products in the stores they go to,” she said.

Boost produces 95 percent pure oxygen in a recyclable aluminum bottle. The product is typically marketed to athletes, people at high altitudes, the elderly, people living in places with poor air quality and even as a hangover remedy.

Although the product is not medical grade – the company makes clear – sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic because pure supplemental oxygen was used to treat symptoms of the virus, Neuner said.

Neuner said people around the world have found the product while looking for supplemental oxygen, and some are even using it for “long-term” COVID-19 symptoms.

Southport's Noah Engel, left, sets up an exhibit for Boost Oxygen, as company founder and CEO Rob Neuner admires his work.

Southport’s Noah Engel, left, sets up an exhibit for Boost Oxygen, as company founder and CEO Rob Neuner admires his work.

Contribution photo

“When COVID hit hard here in the United States, we went through a year of supplying our cans in three weeks,” said Bill Banks, director of content marketing for Boost Oxygen, earlier this year. “We were completely exhausted. “

The company has added 200 Walmart stores where the product is sold and has expanded to more than 2,000 Walgreens and many CVS stores, Neuner said.

“We are doing very well,” he said, noting that they have moved to a larger warehouse in Milford and sales have increased by 50%.

In 2019, the company received a million dollar boost for ABC’s “Shark Tank” from Kevin O’Leary, also known as “Mr. Wonderful.”

Neuner and Boost COO Michael Grice appeared on the show to talk about their product – non-prescription aviator-grade oxygen.

After some back and forth, O’Leary and Neuner agreed on air that O’Leary would give the company a $ 1 million loan in return for a stake in the business.

A year after their appearance on the show, Neuner and Grice reversed the roles, interviewing O’Leary via video chat and asking him why he picked them when they showcased their product.

“It reminded me of trying to sell ice in the Arctic. That’s what I originally thought, ”replied O’Leary.

“As the terrain progressed it started to make more and more sense as I heard him talk about high altitude cities, performances for athletes, and it started to have meat on. bone, ”he said.

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