Self-taught scientist and inventor brings 150 jobs to Sugar Land

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A New York-based producer of sleep and home comfort products, Soft-Tex International’s new Sugar Land facility will be a game-changer for the industry, said Mark Smiderle, director of Soft-Tex.

Described as their “mad scientist and brilliant inventor” by his colleague Taylor Jones – vice president of marketing and e-commerce at Soft-Tex – Smiderle is the creator of Reactex, the company’s patented thermoregulation technology.

A few months after opening his store in Sugar Land, the self-taught Ontarian is happy to share his journey with the inhabitants of his new city.

“I am a worker, I have no formal education and I have not completed my high school education. I’m just really good at making things up, ”Smiderle said. “I am an entrepreneur at heart. I was born a little different. I don’t read or write very well, but I can do complex calculations and I can see why physics works. I got really good at surrounding myself with people who could take what I could see and build things.

As Smiderle aims to relocate supply chains and address the lack of innovation around U.S. home textiles, its primary motivation is to create more jobs.

“My mission is to create jobs,” he said. “This is the legacy I want to leave. I want to give people meaningful jobs. And so, whoever is willing to work, okay, I want to help give them a future and the way to do that is to repatriate the supply chain.

Growing domestic footprint

The 170,000 square foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the Covington Woods area of ​​Sugar Land is expected to double Soft-Tex’s production capacity and create 150 new jobs during 2021.

“As promised, Soft-Tex has delivered and now continues to expand its commitment to increase its national footprint,” said Smiderle.

Soft-Tex began manufacturing its fiber-filled products at the factory in June. There are three ways to fill pillows and bedding with man-made fibers – garnet, blow fill, and moss – explained Smiderle. Garnet pillows are inserted with a roll of polyester fiber, while blown pillows contain loose synthetic fibers. The relatively newer foam filling method involves pouring a mixture of liquid urethane into pillow or cushion shaped molds. The liquid mixture expands and solidifies into a comfortable pillow.

“We import 1 million pillows (from China),” Smiderle said. “And we’re going to be able to pour 1 million pillows by the end of the year.”

Manufacturing was virtually impossible in the United States due to a lack of infrastructure and the market’s reliance on low costs, Smiderle said.

“The way to fight that is to put the technology into the thing and add value to it, so people take the plunge,” he said.

Smiderle got involved with Soft-Tex three years ago, when the bedding and home textile company expressed interest in commercializing Reactex, which Smiderle created in its workshop.

Reactex bedding products are designed to create a temperature-controlled sleep environment. Self-recharging technology stores and releases heat. The Reactex technology portfolio includes over 100 patents and patents pending.

“I said (to Soft-Tex) that’s what we’re going to do, I’m going to merge with the company, I’m going to take over and share the company with you,” Smiderle said. “And we’re not going to be a bedding company anymore. We are going to be an innovative company.

The Sugar Land installation

The innovation includes building more manufacturing units as well as a bold plan to reverse the flow of goods.

“What we’re building here in Sugar Land, we’re going to replicate across the country,” Smiderle said. “We actually opened an office in Belgium, because I can actually export from Belgium to China and I want to reverse the flow of goods from Belgium to China. “

The company plans to build two more facilities in the United States, but has yet to choose their locations.

Soft-Tex chose Sugar Land for its second installation because of its strategic location. The new high-efficiency facility can produce around 445 pillows per hour, Smiderle said.

“We think we did something right,” Smiderle said with a smile. “And I think that’s going to continue to fuel the system and create jobs.”

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