The boon of successful Kent businesses bolstering downtown’s revitalization continues as yet another longtime Kent firm plans to set down roots in the redevelopment block.
The corporate headquarters for Smithers-Oasis, currently based in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, will be moving to the second floor of the Davey building at the corner of South Water Street and Haymaker Parkway.
Larry White, vice president of corporate technology for Smithers-Oasis, said the firm expects to move the approximately 20 employees of the corporate office into their new space by September.
“We’re really excited about it and looking forward to moving in,” White said.
Smithers-Oasis started in Kent in 1954 when V.L. Smithers created a water-absorbant foam for florists to use in creating floral arrangements. The business has since blossomed into a global manufacturer of floral foam, floral accessory products, cellular growing media and post-harvest products for plants.
The corporate offices, established in the 1980s, moved from the Kent location to Cuyahgoa Falls in 1992.
The firm employs about 120 people at its Marvin Street location, where the company recently expanded its research and development base with the addition of a 3,000 square feet greenhouse.
White said they expect the corporate employees, which includes the president and CEO, vice president for Latin America and Asia and its financial and information technology wings, will occupy about three-quarters of the available space on the building's second floor.
“There are quite a few Kent business success stories,” White said. “We like to consider ourselves as one of the originals. With the developments downtown, we saw that as an opportunity to come back home.”
Smithers-Oasis will join other Kent-based firms AMETEK and the Davey Resource Group, a division of The Davey Tree Expert Co., that have relocated to downtown in recent years as part of the more than $100 million redevelopment.
Kent City Manager Dave Ruller was among the city officials who helped introduce Smithers-Oasis leaders to Fairmount Properties, the developer that built the Davey and AMETEK buildings—a collection of mixed-use commercial and retails spaces dubbed College Town Kent by the developer.
Ruller said the ability to attract the Smithers-Oasis corporate offices to downtown is a testament to the redevelopment’s success.
“As a company Smithers-Oasis has a long history in Kent, a significant manufacturing presence and an expanding research capacity, so it seemed a natural fit to bring their corporate leadership back home to Kent too—and we're thrilled that they agree,” Ruller said. “I couldn't imagine a better company to share the marquee with Davey Tree and AMETEK in College Town Kent.”