CEDAR RAPIDS — Eco Lips, one of Cedar Rapids’s more successful start-ups, has outgrown its space and will relocate operations to Marion, a company official said Tuesday.
The business that specializes in organic lip balms operates out of the Cherry Building, 329 10th Ave. SE.
“We’ve been looking for about four years in Cedar Rapids and we couldn’t find anything the right size or the right space,” said Steve Shriver, who started Eco Lips with his wife, Andrea, in 2003. “We’ve just been expanding like crazy. We operate on every floor of the Cherry Building and we just can’t fit in here anymore.”
The company plans to relocate in July to a 35,000-square-foot building at 1199 44th St., which is the old Squaw Creek Mill Works building, he said. He anticipates closing on the property in March.
“Our plan is to not have any business interruption,” Shriver said. “We will transition incrementally during the month of July.”
Shriver said the company is investing about $500,000 to update the building, and is working with Marion on an incentive package.
Eco Lips primarily makes a wide variety of lip balm products, as well as a handful of other products, such as exfoliating lip scrub and beard oil.
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The company has about 30 full-time and 20 part-time employees, Shriver said. They intend to convert the part-time staff to full time over the course of 18 months, he said.
“From the staff side, the remodeling project that was driven by Eco Lips coming to Marion is a great re-use of a building that has been underutilized for years,” Marion City Manager Lon Pluckhahn said.
An outline of the incentive plan includes 80 percent reimbursement over a period of seven years, with a total award amount not to exceed $60,000, according to Marion staff.
According to the company website, the evolution of the business and the relationship of Shriver and then Andrea Danielson are closely tied. Danielson was originally brewing lip balm concoctions in the early 1990s, and gave a sample to Shriver around 1995.
Shriver loved it and as the two developed a relationship, Shriver, a longtime entrepreneur, invested Danielson’s life savings developing the couple’s first lip balm product. Several years later they started Eco Lips.
Shriver said leaving the Cherry Building location in the New Bohemia District will be difficult but necessary move.
“We can walk out the back door and be at NewBo City Market and hear live music, so it will be sad,” Shriver said. “But it is a necessary move for use We are growing up.”
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