Symmetry International Inc.
Steven Lancia founded Symmetry International Inc. (SII) in 1982 as an innovative manufacturer serving a broad clientele base. The company offers a diverse product line of manufacturing technology, including architectural products, foam packaging, theme parks, casino-themed interiors, RF concealment products, retail store products, 3-D themed signage, prefabricated homes, prefabricated exterior panel systems and even golf courses on cruise ships.
Steven now works closely with his sister, Julie Lancia, vice president and creative director for SII. The family carries on a business legacy started by the siblings’ father, Rocco Lancia. Rocco operated a small fabrication company specializing in custom packaging inserts. Tragically, Rocco passed away in 1981 in a fire that destroyed the business. A year after the family’s devastating loss, Steven decided to carry on his father’s vision. With SII, he sought to build a company where people and quality products come first, treating customers like family.
Building a Global Presence
“Steve is really a visionary,” Julie explains. “Under his leadership, this company has taken materials used in different industries and manipulated them to use in for our customers’ needs. We have been able to set ourselves apart through innovation and specialization in the products we manufacture.”
The company’s broad target market includes commercial and retail companies, restaurants, theme parks and any company that requires manufacturing services. Past and current clients include Disney, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Universal Studios, Six Flags, M & M Mars, Toys R Us and F.A.O. Schwarz.
SII has become an innovative force globally with joint ventures in China and projects in South Africa, Philippines, Canada, Brazil, Poland, Korea, Europe and Finland. The business operates from a single 250,000-square-foot manufacturing factory in Rhode Island. While the business operates exclusively in the United States, SII has an expanding global reach as word travels about the company’s distinct and innovative products.
The company employs between 50 and 150 people at any given time, depending on the size scope and number of projects. “For the most part, we do all of our work in-house,” Julie notes. “We have a metal shop in our factory and a wood shop. Because we are so specialized, we don’t sub anything out. We have welders in-house, as well as engineers. Our company also employs three master artists, all brothers, who have been here for almost 20 years. They are wood sculptors from Cambodia. They run the crew, and they have a whole team of painters under them, as well.”
SII has been involved in a number of diverse projects in recent years. The team’s work includes projects for customers in retail, hospitality and entertainment, among others. “We just finished two themed mini golf courses on Disney cruise ships,” says Julie. “The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy projects were the first ever fully themed courses featuring nine interactive holes emphasizing various golfing lessons. We worked side by side with Disney’s Imagineering team on the project, which was a very unique opportunity.”
In 2012, the company completed a project for the M&M World store in London. SII created 13 sculptures and environments for the store. The team built all of the components at the factory in Rhode Island, then sent a crew and the sculptures overseas to finalize the project. “That was my favorite,” Julie adds. “This was very intricate work and we are very proud of it.”
Other favorites include a sculpture of an Aston Martin, designed as an exact replica of an automobile from the James Bond films. “It had real tires and working lights,” Julie notes. “This project required a lot of time and intensive craftsmanship. We also built a large Bumblebee Transformer for Hasbro, a 20-foot sculpture that had more than 5,000 parts and pieces. The sculpture traveled all over the world for the movie premiers. We worked closely with the production company of the movie to match all of the details. Overall, we’ve built around a dozen Transformer sculptures.”
SII has had major success with clients in the United States. Clients have come to count on the team for intricate, elaborate and high-quality sculptures and environments. Stability has not been easy. Nonetheless, the company has managed to stay ahead, despite what Julie describes as a challenging environment for manufacturing in the United States.
Still, SII has perfected the art of building more than models: the team builds relationships. “The most important thing for us is maintaining relationships with our previous clients,” Julie explains. “We are only as good as our last project with the company. Our crew understands that the quality needs to be the upmost best. If they don’t, the end result is not going to be up to our standards. Nothing leaves the factory until it exceeds the client’s expectations.”
In the coming years, Julie sees the business more or less staying the course. “We want to come up with a steady stream of innovative products,” she says. “We are always pushing ourselves to take on more challenging work and stay on the cutting edge.” She is cautiously optimistic about manufacturing in the United States, but takes great pride in her family’s American-made products. By keeping operations local, even when working with clients overseas, Symmetry International Inc. is able to provide consistent, high quality work and innovative products to a diverse client base.