116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — “What’s up, boss?” an employee out on the production floor greeted Steve Shriver as the Eco Lips owner led a tour of the manufacturing company’s new-ish facility on a recent Wednesday afternoon.
Shriver waved back.
“How are you doing?” he replied.
The company that produces and packages organic lip balm and other products sold in more than 10,000 retail venues began its move from its previous Marion building — where it had been for only about three years — to 6000 Huntington Ct. NE this spring.
Tax credits and incentives were provided by the city of Cedar Rapids and the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
About 100 people now work in the 78,750-square-foot site, which previously housed Hunter Specialties, a hunting accessories manufacturer and supplier. The building had sat vacant for some four years, Shriver estimated.
Eco Lips’s employee count will expand by 50 temporary workers come its “busy season” this winter, Shriver added.
The site houses Eco Lips administrative offices as well as product development, production and warehousing.
Its assembly lines, when up and running at full clip, can produce 40,000 to 50,000 units of lip-care products an hour.
The facility also contains — tucked neatly in its own corner of the factory floor — Simply Soothing, maker of Bug Soother insect repellent.
Eco Lips bought the Columbus Junction business this past spring. Before the acquisition, all Eco Lips products were made without water; with Simply Soother, the company included “water capability” with its new home’s production area.
Overall, Shriver said, Eco Lips makes some “300 products on a regular basis,” under its own label and for other brands. Those products — along with its well-known organic lip balm — include “personal-care products” such as oils, moisturizers, creams and ointments, he said.
Two of its machines on the production, assembly and packaging floor are brand-new, Shriver pointed out.
The company has grown as quick pace. It began in 2003 in a 12,000-square-foot venue on 10th Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids before moving to its most-previous home, the 36,000-square-foot space in Marion.
Why relocate to northeast Cedar Rapids? Frankly, Shriver admitted, it was “one of the few warehouses within a 60-mile radius” that offered the space for current and future needs. Production floor space alone in this Huntington Court building is approximately 70,000 square feet.
“We couldn’t have designed a better venue,” he nodded.
But as for that room to grow: A peek inside the massive warehouse room reveals shelves already filling up.
Shriver cited global supply chain issues — including a paper shortage, which Eco Lips needs for packaging and labeling, among other uses — as reasons for stocking up.
And, he said, his 18-year-old business quite simply is “growing faster than anticipated.”
Comments: (319) 398-8307; firstname.lastname@example.org