Crayola is the most familiar crayon and marker company in the world, having helped generations of artists express their creativity and imagination. They make nearly 3 billion crayons each year –about thirteen million each day – right here in Lehigh Valley. In fact, about 90% of the entire world’s crayons are made locally by Crayola.
Crayola has been making crayons for more than 116 years and along the way they grew beyond crayons as they found innovative and fun ways to create art products. Today, the company manufactures a wide variety of art materials to help children creatively express themselves. The company also produces 3 million markers, 500,000 jars of paint, 170,000 pounds of modeling compound, and 22,000 Silly Putty eggs every day.
Growth and expansion over the years has resulted in a workforce of more than 1,200 people in the Lehigh Valley and over 2,000 worldwide.
There are three facilities in the Lehigh Valley where the products are manufactured, with an 800,000 square foot distribution center located near the Bethlehem intermodal facility to ship products to United States customers quickly and efficiently.
Crayola was founded in 1885 in Easton, Northampton County, PA by cousins C. Harold Smith and Edwin Binney – under the original company name “Binney & Smith.” They began by selling slate pencils and dustless chalk to schools.
The Crayola brand was born in 1903 when they made and sold the first 8 count box of crayons, containing the same eight colors you’ll find in the box today. Fun fact: The name ‘Crayola’ came to be when Alice Binney, a schoolteacher and wife of co-founder Edwin, combined the French word “craie”, meaning “chalk”, with “ola”, shortened from the French word “oléagineux”, meaning “oily”.
In 1976, Crayola built its company headquarters and expanded production facility in Forks Township, PA, just a few miles away from the original facility, and still maintains offices in that original building.
The Crayola Factory was opened in 1996 to help revitalize Downtown Easton, attracting families from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and beyond to experience Crayola creativity in action. Increased visitation resulted in additional restaurants, stores, and a renewed downtown. The reinvented attraction was named Crayola Experience and inspired additional locations in Orlando, Florida, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Plano, Texas, and Chandler, Arizona.
Crayola has always been committed to sustainability, with initiatives throughout the entire operation that help the company stay green. Thanks to a partnership with Energy Power Partners, UGI, Baltimore County Renewable Energy Project, Lancaster County Waste Management, and state and local governments, Crayola achieved their goal of 100% renewable energy for U.S. manufacturing this year. The company is also celebrating the 10 year anniversary of their 25-acre solar farm in Pennsylvania, which was built with the help of local energy providers UGI and PPL.
With the power generated from 33,000 solar panels, the company produced more than 10 billion crayons and 6 million markers with the power of the sun over the last decade. “At Crayola, we believe our job is to help parents and teachers raise creatively alive kids. And, we also believe it’s important that we leave a healthier planet to these kids and the kids of tomorrow,” said Pete Ruggiero, Chief Operating Officer.
Presence in the Lehigh Valley:
According to company leadership, Crayola chooses to remain in Lehigh Valley for several reasons.
- Their employees – There are generations of Lehigh Valley locals working at Crayola who love the brand and take pride in their work. “Our employees are exceptional, hard-working, intelligent people who continually make our products and company better. More than 240 of our employees have been at Crayola for 20 years or longer, and we have had generations of families working here throughout our history,” said Rich Wuerthele, Crayola President & CEO.
- Location – Being close to New York City and Philadelphia provides a shipping and logistics advantage. The facilities are close to railways, ports, and major highways to ship products all over the world.
- Higher education – There are many high-quality colleges and universities in the area that provide the company with a talented, diverse, qualified workforce.