“We looked quite a bit in our area. Our first preference was to stay in the community,” Payson said in a telephone interview.
The search led them to Devens, which had a 325,000-square-foot former Gillette building available.
The company worked with the state and leased 210,000 square feet, which they are working to convert. The Economic Assistance Coordinating Council approved a $541,550, 10-year tax incentive financing agreement.
The state said in a news release that SMC will invest $14 million in the project, which will retain 312 full-time jobs and create 100 new jobs in the next three years.
Payson, who spent about 10 years with Nypro Inc. and is familiar with the area, said the site offered strong infrastructure and inexpensive power. SMC is working to install 60,000 square feet of ISO Class 8 clean rooms as well as 15,000 square feet of Class 7 clean room space.
SMC has three plants in Massachusetts, each about 15 miles from Devens. A plant in Leominster and one plant in Sterling will move their operations to Devens in the late summer. A second Sterling building, known as Building 16, will be used as a buffer and will move in 2016.
The Somerset, Wis.-based company currently has about 143,000 square feet of space at its three Massachusetts sites, so the expansion will boost capacity by about one third.
SMC built its presence in Massachusetts with the purchase of Cycles Inc. of Sterling in 2007 and Innovend LLC of Leominster in 2008.
Payson said about 90 percent of the current employees plan to make the move to the new facility. He said customers have also been notified and they have shown an eagerness to work in a new state-of-the-art facility.
He also noted that SMC will move 40 injection molding machines, and the company plans to buy 40 more as the move evolves. It is still working out the details.
Payson said SMC has been on an aggressive growth streak. It recently doubled its manufacturing in Costa Rica, moving to a facility in Alajuela. Last year, it added space in Bangalore, India.
In 2013, SMC added 10,000 square feet of clean room space to its Santa Rosa, Calif., facility. It also expanded its Somerset headquarters building by 100,000 square feet.
The company, which was founded in 1988, was previously known as Scientific Molding Corp. Now, as SMC, it was 34th in the Plastics News' most recent ranking of North American injection molders, with estimated sales of $220 million.