The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

November 2, 2012

Spongex celebrates five years in Tarboro

The Daily Southerner

TARBORO — Thursday marked five years of business in Edgecombe County for Spongex as employees and community members gathered in the break room to cut cake and celebrate the success of the manufacturer of aquatic products.

“We don’t think of ourselves as employees. We’re a team,” said Gloria Hill, who has been with the company all five years. The manufacturing facility, located on Anaconda Road, has about 50 employees.

“We make products that are safe and fun and functional and that are enjoyed by thousands of people across the United States,” said Curtis Hughes, president of Spongex.

The Boys & Girls Club of Nash and Edgecombe Counties has used products that Spongex has donated to them.

“They helped us out with a lot of the swim products – kickboards and floating devices,” said Ron Green, the club’s director. “We’re trying to make sure young people get in the water and know how to swim.”

Among the company’s other products are the “drifter,” an updated version of the pool noodle, exercise mats, and buoys for commercial fishermen. The products are made out of PVC foam and are colorfast and antimicrobial, Hughes said.

“What we bring to this area and to our customers is another product that’s made in America,” Hughes said. “Tarboro is a great community that represents America.”

Claude Demby, chief executive officer of Spongex’s parent company, Nomaco, said the company has had a good relationship with the community during its time here.

“They’ve always been receptive. They’ve always worked with us. It’s been welcoming,” Demby said.

“We’re privileged to have Spongex in our community,” said Tarboro Town Manager Alan Thornton. “They’re a great part of our community. We look forward to their [continued] success.”

In 2008, Hill and her fellow team members faced uncertainty when Spongex’s sales plummeted during the national debt crisis. The company has since rebounded.

“It surprised us all to watch Spongex grow. I think we’ve got great room to keep us growing,” Hill said.

When she goes into stores such as Sam’s Club, Hill said seeing her company’s products on the shelves makes her feel “proud.” She has seen many changes during her time at Spongex.

“We’ve come so far. When I first came, everything was done manually. The process has really improved,” Hill said.

“We’re bringing in new talent and upgrading our processes to make it more efficient,” Demby said. He added the company plans to bring in three new press machines under the leadership of new operations manager David Wood,

Nomaco previously had its headquarters in Connecticut. The decision to relocate to Tarboro was based on the availability of the two adjacent facilities encompassing about 500,000 square feet and the location’s proximity to another company facility in Zebulon.