How We Started
Prior to the invention of floral foam, florists used chicken wire and newspaper, clay or foliages as a base for floral arrangements.
Within this area of our website you can discover the fascinating history behind the early days of producing and introducing OASIS® Floral products.
Vernon Lewis (V.L.) Smithers was born on July 22, 1890. His career, and eventual path to the floral industry, began in the 1930’s, when he was the owner and operator of V.L. Smithers Laboratories, an independent testing laboratory for the tyre and battery industries in Akron, Ohio. Sometime after this beginning, V.L. realized the strong desire to be a manufacturer – to make something and sell it!
Smithers’ exposure to foam products occurred in the early 1950’s when his laboratory was doing work for the Union Carbide Company. Neither Carbide, nor another firm, who subsequently purchased the moulds and equipment, were able to find a suitable use for the light-weight, crushable foam. Seeing this challenge as an opportunity, Smithers purchased the equipment determined to find a use for the large blocks of foam it produced.
The start of a new business was born of pure coincidence. Smithers happened to be glancing at a floral arrangement he had given his wife, and thought, “If I could find a way to get water into foam, perhaps it would be used as a base for floral arrangements.” Eureka! – OASIS® floral foam emerged. Following the manufacturing of the product in his laboratory, Smithers established the first production facility in Kent, Ohio in 1953.
Those who knew him stress that Mr. Smithers was not a flamboyant person; he did not want to be in the limelight. He was, rather, a great believer in the industry’s organizations and their activities, working hard to ensure that they had his company and its employees’ support. Smithers was respected for his concern for others and his natural friendliness. His industry involvement included membership in SAF, Teleflora, FTD, and of course, WF&FSA. Active in community affairs as well, Smithers was a member of the Masonic Order, Knights Templar, Rotary Club and the Methodist Church.
He spent a total of 20 years dedicated to the advancement of the floral industry. Smithers was a great believer in the investment of his own time in its organization and people. The company continues to be one of the largest supporters of the people and associations which make the floral industry what it is today; a philosophy handed down by V.L. Smithers and his successors, which stressed the value of returning the same kind of support which has made the industry and companies that serve it successful.
Although the products sold by Smithers-Oasis have changed considerably since the 1950’s, V.L. Smithers has bequeathed a legacy of undaunted spirit and integrity to both his own company and to the entire floral industry.
The UK Story
Smithers-Oasis UK Limited, employing approximately 100 people, is the UK’s leading manufacturer and marketer of floral foam, floral foam accessories and other sundry products, under the registered brand name OASIS®.
During the late 60s and early 70s, the UK was served as an export market out of the Danish manufacturing facility. Towards the end of the 70s, this market developed rapidly and a manufacturing facility was established in Washington, Tyne & Wear on 28th January 1981 with a total staff of 8 which had expanded to approximately 50 by the end of 1986.
Further development of the business occurred when, on 20th December 1993, Smithers-Oasis acquired the assets and business of James Naylor Limited, who produced the well-known brand names of NAYLORBASE® and FOAM FRAMES®. Prior to this date, Smithers-Oasis had supplied James Naylor with floral foam since its inception in 1975 and a close working relationship had always existed between the two companies.
In 2001 Smithers-Oasis started to develop a product portfolio of non-foam sundry lines. These product lines were sourced from all over the globe and lead to our product range growing from 500 products, to today’s figure of over 3000.
2007 saw the need for the company to expand whilst also consolidate its business activities in one location. A purpose built 4000 sq mt warehouse was built adjoining our current warehouse and office facilities. The new warehouse enabled us to relocate our Redditch facility into our existing Washington site. Today this site encompasses office space, manufacturing and warehousing.
Smithers-Oasis UK Ltd today serves approximately 450 wholesale customers throughout the UK, Ireland, Israel, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Gibraltar and Cyprus. We are unparalleled in our support to the floral industry through our close links with colleges, trade organisations, wholesalers, florists, flower arrangers, students and hobbyists.
Our goal is to make a positive impact on our employees, customers and communities and to lead through innovation and example.
The Floralife® Story
For more than 50 years, Floralife, Inc. has provided a complete line of postharvest care products for the floral industry. In 1938, they introduced the first Floralife® Flower Food, and since then have been the first to bring to the market water specific fresh flower foods, and to develop a “Crystal Clear” fresh flower food.
The acquisition of Floralife® in 2007 by Smithers-Oasis, meant the merging of research and development teams, enabling Smithers-Oasis and Floralife® to share their expertise in both foam chemistry and flower care and handling.
The benefits for florists are already breaking through with the new superior OASIS® Floral Foam, which is improved by Floralife® Technology producing gains such as more vibrant, robust greenery and aiding arrangements in staying fresher for a longer period of time.
Through this partnership Smithers-Oasis have the products needed at every level of the distribution chain to ensure maximum consumer enjoyment.