Spokane Journal of Business

SmaK Plastics grows in North Idaho

Manufacturer to increase its product lines, workforce

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-—Samantha Peone
Left to right, SmaK Products’ Daniel Goad, Jonathan Smalley, and Mark Baxter say the company expects to roll out its line of cleaning supply products next month.
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Since leasing a shuttered Coeur d’Alene facility and moving in last April, Vancouver, Wash.-based SmaK Plastics Inc. subsidiary SmaK Products Inc. has grown its North Idaho workforce. 

Jonathan Smalley, company president, says SmaK Products plans next month to roll out its line of commercial-grade cleaning items, such as cleaning equipment for carpets, upholstery, automotive detailing, and different styles of cleaning “wands.” 

The Coeur d’Alene facility currently manufactures overflowed items from Vancouver for SmaK Plastics, such as fuel tanks, plastic ducting, plastic toilet seats, indoor pool chairs for handicap accessibility, and other miscellaneous products, says Daniel Goad, sales manager for SmaK Products. 

Smalley says the Coeur d’Alene facility also molds some products for another Vancouver-based subsidiary of SmaK Plastics, Columbia Manufacturing LLC, which specializes in above-ground and underground power connection boxes for residential use.

When SmaK Plastics leased the 20,000-square-foot Coeur d’Alene facility at 181 W. Aqua, the company started with two employees, says Smalley.

Now, 18 full-time staffers work for SmaK Products, he says. He projects that number will swell to “the high 30s or low 40s” by the second quarter of 2018.

SmaK Plastics and SmaK Products specialize in custom rotational molding, which involves placing plastic in a mold to create products, says Smalley. 

That includes running the molding machine, detailing and finishing the product, checking for quality, and packaging and shipping those products out, he says.

“Injection molding, global molding, thermoforming, those guys get all the glory. We make big parts, and nobody knows about us,” Smalley says, laughing. 

“Locally, we’ve been mainly getting the rotational molding part of the business functioning well,” he says.

The Coeur d’Alene facility runs two eight-hour shifts—a day shift and a swing shift and is looking at adding a third shift next year, Smalley says.

“We’ll need at least a dozen more people to assemble the floor care line,” he says, referring to products SmaK Products plans to roll out next month.

Organizations that might be interested in that type of product would be cleaning companies, hotels, schools, or other community buildings, he says.

Smalley says SmaK Plastics had the opportunity to buy the rotational molding equipment Xaact Products left behind after it closed. 

Goad says Xaact Products was a manufacturer of commercial-grade cleaning equipment, but that company went bankrupt in 2016.

Instead of transporting the equipment to Vancouver, Smalley says SmaK Plastics chose to lease the space in Idaho and open SmaK Products.

One reason SmaK Plastics chose to expand into Coeur d’Alene is because it wanted to bring on Mark Baxter, who worked for Xaact Products and is now vice president of product development. He was also one of the first two SmaK Products employees. 

The other employee was Smalley’s son, Justin Smalley, who’s head of Coeur d’Alene operations, says Smalley.

Baxter provided insight on how to improve the floor care products that company Xaact Products specialized in manufacturing.

“We’ve taken on the product mix that was previously made here, and with Mark’s help, we found a lot of areas of improvement…We’re going to come out with a much better, more robust, and durable product line,” says Smalley.

The availability of the equipment, building, and workforce were the other reasons they chose to expand into Coeur d’Alene.

Smalley says he’s received some interest from other companies in the Coeur d’Alene area that currently have products molded on the East Coast and are thinking of localizing that process, he says.

SmaK Products is considering renovating additional office space in its building, most likely next February or March. That extra space would be turned into more manufacturing room, he says.

For SmaK Plastics overall, Smalley says, “we’re seeing growth everywhere.”

Companywide, SmaK Plastics’ 2016 revenue was about $6.5 million, says Smalley, adding, 2017 is doing “really well, and 2018 looks even better.”

Established in 2007, SmaK Plastics acquired two other companies this year: the aforementioned Columbia Manufacturing and Flextank Inc. 

The latter business makes tanks for wine fermentation, maturation, and storage, he says.

 

Samantha Peone
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Reporter Samantha Peone joined the Journal in 2015 as research coordinator before later transitioning into a reporter role. She covers real estate and construction.

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