EASTON, PA. — With the company “bursting at the seams” according to its co-owner, Smooth-On Inc. is moving from an 80,000-square-foot facility to a newly refurbished 360,000-square-foot facility located 15 miles away from its current location in Easton.
And Smooth-On has Hollywood to thank for some of its success.
All 200-plus employees of the liquid rubber and plastic manufacturer likely will make the move to the new location during September, said Clay Western, vice president of sales. Construction and retrofitting of the new site will continue until then.
“We're glad to have room to breathe as we have been out of space for some time,” Western said. “We added another 30,000 square feet a few years ago, and we had grown out of that the first day that we opened the new space. We've been running three shifts for the better part of a few years, so it's been a tremendous growth period.”
Smooth-On manufactures rubber, plastic, foam and other products, turning them into three-dimensional end products. These products include many sculptures produced in the U.S. — elaborate pieces of architectural ornamentation or restorations, models and prototypes that can are used by such companies as AT&T Inc., Lucent Technologies Inc., Ford Motor Co. and others.
The new facility is a refurbished manufacturing site, located in a portion of Lower Macungie Township that has been hit hard over the years by the decline of manufacturing in that part of Pennsylvania. Local officials hope the move will help to spur some residential and commercial growth in the community, according to local media reports.
One of the many reasons for Smooth-On's growth has been its success in a field not generally considered common for manufacturers — the movie industry. Smooth-On has made customized plastic materials, including special effects products, for movie studios for the last 25 years. The company operates small offices in Hollywood and London near the main movie studios in those cities.
Although its movie business comprises a somewhat small percentage of overall sales, it might be the most interesting industry that the company serves.
“We have made plastics for spaceships that have been shown in Star Wars movies and materials for popular shows like ‘The Walking Dead' and ‘Vampire Chronicles,'” Western said. “It's been a great business for us, and we have designed plastic items for many of the same customers regularly for years.”
Foam is used for models and miniatures in Hollywood, silicone for makeup effects (think zombies) and polyurethane goes into the company's “Smash Plastic,” used for safe breakaway glass formed into bottles and windows designed to break apart safely.