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Super Bowl Commercial Sports Penn College Connection

Two former students at Pennsylvania College of Technology manufactured a key element of a memorable prop featured in a prominent Super Bowl commercial.

Steven D. Belin and Wayne B. Mitz, founders and owners of BelMit Development in York Springs, machined the billet aluminum gas tank shells on the motorcycle driven by Hollywood superstar Keanu Reeves in a commercial for Squarespace, a website developer. During the spot, Reeves stands on the motorcycle while traveling through a desert to visually reinforce the Squarespace theme, “Make it happen.”

Former Penn College students Steven D. Belin (left) and Wayne B. Mitz are the founders/owners of BelMit Development in York Springs, a company that machined the billet aluminum gas tank shells on the motorcycle driven by Keanu Reeves in a Super Bowl commercial for Squarespace.
Former Penn College students Steven D. Belin (left) and Wayne B. Mitz are the founders/owners of BelMit Development in York Springs, a company that machined the billet aluminum gas tank shells on the motorcycle driven by Keanu Reeves in a Super Bowl commercial for Squarespace.

That theme reflects reality for Belin and Mitz. While students at Penn College, the two bonded over their love for machining and racing, and they built the foundational skills that resulted in their handiwork seen by millions on Super Bowl Sunday.

“For sure, I learned a lot at Penn College, and Wayne did, as well,” Belin said. “It was good to start from scratch and pick up things in each course. We had lots of opportunities to go above and beyond the regular classes with our own projects in the machine shop. Working on those projects gave us the feel of running our own business.

“We knew that someday we wanted to work for ourselves, be our own boss.”

Howard W. Troup, maintenance mechanic/millwright specialist and adjunct automated manufacturing instructor, knew that as well. He often would spend late evenings in the machine shop overseeing the students’ extra work.

“They were both passionate about racing and machining,” Troup said. “They both caught on really fast and listened to instruction. Their work quality was above and beyond. They always wanted to get their class projects done, so they could work on their own projects. I would be here until 10 p.m. with them, experimenting with things. I enjoyed them both.”

Mitz earned two associate degrees ­– automotive engineering technology in 2000 and toolmaking technology in 2002 – before working at an engines machine shop in the Hanover area. Belin was a manufacturing engineering technology student from 2000-04. He left without completing his bachelor’s degree because entrepreneurship could no longer wait.

“Steve was a fantastic student,” Troup said. “He was just ready to begin making money and start the business.”

The business began in Mitz’s parents’ garage with equipment purchased at machinery auctions. About a decade later, the duo work in a 7,000-square-foot shop, featuring three machining centers, a computer-numerical-control turning center, an engine dyno, and a bunch of manual equipment, such as mills and lathes.

BelMit Development is a specialty engine component manufacturer, with an emphasis on racing engines. Belin and Mitz have crafted oil pan components for Richard Childress Racing-owned cars that have captured the pole at Daytona. The carbon fiber intake manifolds that they began experimenting with as students have been used by Roush Yates Engines for several dirt sprint car national championships.

“We have people all over the world that we make parts for,” Belin said. “We’ve grown every year. It’s been a steady climb.”

One of those clients is Arch Motorcycle, which describes itself as the designer and manufacturer of “American luxury motorcycles that capture the custom spirit.” Reeves owns the company with noted motorcycle designer Gard Hollinger.

Hollinger connected with BelMit Development after a friend showed him the aluminum headlight assembly that Belin and Mitz manufactured for his custom cruiser. Hollinger responded by asking them to produce two prototype sets of exterior shells for Arch Motorcycle gas tanks.

Seven years later, the aluminum shells are on TV screens across the country as Reeves stands tall on one of his motorcycles, traveling approximately 40 mph in the California desert.

“It’s always good to see something you worked on be seen on the national stage,” Belin said. “It’s neat, but we represent just one of many parts on the motorcycle.”

Each gas tank shell is 25 inches long, 11 inches high and 7 inches deep. Belin estimates that it takes several hours to manufacture one shell. They begin with a solid aluminum plate that is 7 inches thick and weighs about 175 pounds. The finished component is 1/8-inch thick and weighs 5 pounds.

Troup deduced the creators of the component when exposed to the Reeves commercial during the Super Bowl. He monitors the BelMit Development Facebook page and had seen many pictures of the company’s gas tank shells built for Arch Motorcycle during the past few years.

“I didn’t look at Reeves during the commercial,” Troup said. “I looked at the motorcycle to see how cool that was and noticed the gas tank shell looked like the same shape that Wayne and Steve would make. It’s exciting that Penn College has a connection to the Super Bowl and Keanu Reeves through them. Everybody I’ve told here at the college, their face lights up. They saw the commercial, but had no idea of the college’s connection.”

That included David R. Cotner, dean of Penn College’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies.

“I was impressed by the motorcycle itself,” he said. “I even daydreamed about what it would be like to own one! I was so proud to learn that two of our former students were linked to it. There aren’t many people who say that they’ve contributed to a custom product featured in a Super Bowl ad. The success of Steve and Wayne speaks very well of them and the education that they received at Penn College.”

The Penn College duo viewed the commercial on social media a few days before the Super Bowl. Belin admitted they didn’t watch the actual Super Bowl broadcast.

Appropriately, they had work to do.

For information on manufacturing-related majors and other programs offered by Penn College’s School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4520.

Penn College is a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development. Email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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