Lafayette Grad Finds Lehigh Valley the Perfect Home for Cast Iron Cookware Business
By George Lewis on February 3, 2021
In 2015, when Lafayette College graduate Peter Huntley was looking for the right location for a new cast iron cookware business he was starting, his knowledge of the Lehigh Valley and the region’s rich manufacturing history made the decision an easy one.
“Pennsylvania has a unique place in the history of cast iron, and Lehigh Valley has its own history in iron and steel,” he said. “Plus, I knew the area. I knew I liked it here and felt this was a good place to put a business.”
The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Stargazer Cast Iron was the featured guest in the second episode of a virtual lecture series, “Meet the Manufacturer,” produced by the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem to introduce viewers to innovators and entrepreneurs who are advancing manufacturing in the region.
Manufacturing is not just a part of Lehigh Valley history. It remains a vibrant and growing part of the regional economy. Lehigh Valley is home to more than 700 manufacturers that employ more than 33,000 people.
Huntley, who grew up in Connecticut, enrolled at Lafayette to study physics but changed his major to art. As the CEO of Stargazer, he uses both his science and art backgrounds in the design and manufacturing of the company’s products.
He was working as a product designer when got the idea to start Stargazer after a personal experience shopping for cast iron cookware. He was not satisfied with the quality of mass-produced products on the market. He believed he could establish a company that manufactured products to higher standards.
Workers at Stargazer’s Allentown facility to do grinding, finishing, and fine detail work on skillets cast at a foundry in the Midwest.
A hundred years ago, Huntley explained, skilled craft workers ground cast iron kitchenware by hand. Stargazer’s skilled crafts workers use modern technology to make skillets with old-world precision and quality.
“Our work is as much finesse as technical, as much sculpting as manufacturing,” he said.
He has found a good source of talent in the Lehigh Valley. Stargazer’s workforce includes people with backgrounds in precision manual work such as automotive repair and machine shops.
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