‘Madam’ calls, and Spectronics Corp. goes all CIA

No leaks: Westbury ultraviolet-detector ace Spectronics Corp. hosted a locaton shoot of the CBS drama "Madam Secretary" on Friday, and lips are sealed.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

From the Art Imitates Life file comes the Spectronics Corp., which is absolutely ready for its latest closeup.

The Westbury manufacturer smiled for the cameras on Friday, when production of the CBS Network political drama “Madam Secretary” moved in for a day of location shooting. Spectronics Corp.’s 100,000-square-foot facility played the role of a Virginia company that’s (spoiler alert) actually a CIA front, in an episode slated for broadcast later this year.

The maker of ultraviolet lamps and high-tech fluorescent leak-detection products won’t be quitting its day job, but these occasional location shoots – this is not the first time Hollywood has called – are a fun fringe benefit for Spectronics Corp.’s hardworking staff, according to President Jon Cooper.

“It’s a positive experience for my company,” Cooper told Innovate LI. “The employees enjoy it.

“It’s not something we can do every week, because it’s a bit disruptive,” he added. “But once in a blue moon, it breaks things up and it’s interesting, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Spectronics Corp. has been working for a decade with a company that scouts locations for television and film productions, ever since Cooper was a member of the Suffolk County Legislature and learned firsthand about efforts to attract TV and film crews to Long Island.

“When I became knowledgeable about these programs, I let them know of our company and explained that we were open to the possibility of film shoots here,” he said.

Jon Cooper: Site to behold.

The first shoot hosted by the Westbury company, nearly 10 years ago, was a commercial for then-independent Nextel Communications, now a subsidiary of Sprint Corp.

Various other productions have passed through from time to time, according to Cooper, who noted a “broad range of potential locations” inside the 100,000-square-foot space, “from office areas to assembly areas to the production floor to the warehouse.”

“It’s not too often that you’ll find one location offering such a varied range of possibilities to shoot different scenes,” he said.

The “Madam Secretary” shoot will take viewers to Spectronics Corp.’s parking lot, lobby and reception office. Set designers were busy Friday morning transforming Spectronics into the CIA dummy company, covering indigenous signage with fictional logos and even fogging the glass entrance doors, complete with the faux firm’s name.

“It actually looks so nice, we’re going to frost our doors with the Spectronics logo,” Cooper said. “It’s really amazing, the work they’ve done so quickly.”

The company president and his team are contractually tight-lipped about the content of the shoot, including whether lead actress Téa Leoni or any other series regulars or guest stars were involved. Cooper did reveal, however, that neither he nor any Spectronics Corp. staffers landed any camera time.

“Actually, we have to clear out of the area,” he noted.

Cooper, of course, has appeared on television many times, as the Suffolk Legislature’s one-time Democratic majority leader and as a contributor to CNN, MSNBC and other news networks. On Fox Business News in 2013, he famously debated White Castle Vice President Jamie Richardson over national minimum-wage laws.

And Spectronics Corp. has tasted the ultraviolet limelight many times – not only by hosting location shoots, but through Spectroline UV product placements on “The X Files” and “CSI: New York,” as well as real-life contributions to space shuttle science and the Human Genome Project.

That real-world exposure is much more likely to affect business than anonymously hosting an episode of a TV drama, according to Cooper, who noted “no references to Spectronics” in Friday’s shoot. But for company in the midst of what its president calls “a record-breaking summer,” that’s just fine.

“A good range of our products are related to air conditioning and refrigeration leak detection, and because it’s been such a hot summer nationally, sales are at a record level,” Cooper said. “We’ve been on overtime for two weeks now, mornings and evenings and weekends, just trying to keep up production.

“We have not been this busy in years.”

So, instead of leveraging the “Madam Secretary” production into new business opportunities, Spectronics Corp. will simply enjoy its latest peek behind network TV’s curtain. Cooper – who on Friday also hosted another network location scout who was “literally in awe” over the range of on-site locations – said the shoots are always “a positive experience.”

“We really don’t get any publicity out of this, so it’s mostly just fun,” he added. “And I know the employees really get a kick out of it.”