LINWOOD — Watching a board go through a laminating machine wasn’t something Misty Ebel expected to be thrilled to see.
But when the first laminate panel at EGGER Wood Products’ new factory in the Linwood area rolled off the press, Ebel couldn’t hide her excitement as she took photos to commemorate the moment.
“I was surprised at how excited I was to watch it,” said Ebel, head of marketing and communications for the EGGER site. “It’s nice to move from where we build and build to where we’re producing now.”
In July 2017, the Austrian-based wood products company announced that it would build its first North American production facility near Lexington. Construction on the $700 million project began in 2018 on 200 acres of land that now houses the 4.5 million square foot building.
When production began at the plant in September, it was a moment that called for celebration.
“That excitement of going from building to fully operational builds every day because now you get to see the product being made,” said Michael Holmes, corporate training manager at EGGER. “It’s quite exciting for people who have been here since when it was a construction site or before that when it was just dirt.”
The facility is currently still “accelerating” production and is only in the first of three development phases, Ebel said. The first phase is expected to last six years and will include an investment of $500 million. Phase three is expected to be completed by 2035.
The EGGER plant between Salisbury and Lexington produces particleboard (sheets of compressed wood chips and resin) and thermally fused laminates which are sold to furniture manufacturers, architects and designers in the United States and the Canada. Although EGGER has 19 other production sites scattered across Europe and South America, the new factory in Davidson County gives the company a foothold in the North American market.
When the Linwood plant was announced, EGGER predicted that it would create approximately 770 direct jobs. Currently, about 300 people work at the facility, and Holmes said the company is still looking to hire for many positions. The facility will likely not grow to 770 employees until full construction is complete.
“We have positions in all areas, including logistics, production, shipping, we have security positions,” Holmes said. “We have positions in many different fields, so we are always actively recruiting.”
Although the site is located in Davidson County, it has provided a workplace for Rowan County residents like Ebel, who has lived in Salisbury for nine years. Having a major employer just minutes across the county is a major boost for Rowan, said Rod Crider, chairman of Rowan’s Economic Development Commission.
“We are delighted with the start of production at EGGER and wish them many years of success at their new location in Davidson County,” said Crider. “As they are located less than five miles from the county line, we anticipate a tremendous economic impact for Rowan County that will benefit our residents and businesses.”
To help achieve its hiring goals, EGGER has partnered with Davidson Community College to form the Apprenticeship Consortium that allows the company’s new employees to complete several years of paid training while learning the trade. Holmes said program participants bring passion to the facility.
“We give them the opportunity here to be educated while learning and growing to become the foundation of our maintenance and engineering department,” Holmes said. “They breathed a lot of life and energy into the site.”
The EGGER site will continue to grow in the coming years in terms of employment and production capacity. There are plans to add two more cardboard laminating presses to the line, Ebel said.
As the site evolves, a reminder of the establishment’s beginnings will always be present.
“The entire production project team signed the first laminate and particleboard (which were produced in the factory),” Ebel said. “These boards will be displayed in the factory for posterity.”
You will find a list of vacancies on the EGGER website at egger.bamboohr.com/jobs/.