Production underway at EGGER Wood Products facility in Linwood
LINWOOD — Watching a board be processed through a lamination machine wasn’t something that Misty Ebel expected herself to be excited to see.
But when the first board laminated in EGGER Wood Products’ new facility in the Linwood area came out of the press, Ebel couldn’t hide her enthusiasm as she snapped pictures to commemorate the moment.
“I was surprised at how excited I was to watch it,” said Ebel, a marketing and communications manager for the EGGER site. “It’s nice to go from where we are building and building to we’re now producing.”
In July of 2017, the Austria-based wood product company announced that it would build its first North American production facility near Lexington. Construction on the $700-million project began in 2018 on a 200-acre plot of land that now houses the 4.5-million square foot building.
When production began at the facility in September, it was a moment that called for celebration.
“That excitement of going from construction to fully operational builds everyday because now you get a chance to see the product being made,” said Michael Holmes, a corporate training manager for EGGER. “That’s pretty exciting for people who have been here from the time it was a construction site or prior to that when it was just dirt.”
The facility is currently still “ramping up” production and is only in the first of its three developmental phases, Ebel said. Phase one is expected to take six years and will include a $500 million investment. Phase three is projected to be complete by 2035.
EGGER’s facility between Salisbury and Lexington produces particleboard (sheets of compressed wood chips and resin) and thermally-fused laminate that is sold to furniture companies, architects and designers in the U.S. and Canada. Although EGGER has 19 other production facilities scattered across Europe and South America, the new facility in Davidson County gives the company a foothold in the North American market.
When the Linwood facility was announced, EGGER projected that it would create an estimated 770 direct jobs. Currently, there are around 300 people working at the facility and Holmes said that the company is still looking to hire for numerous positions. The facility likely won’t reach 770 employees until the full build-out is complete.
“We have positions in all areas, including logistics, production, dispatch, we have security positions,” Holmes said. “We have positions in a lot of different areas so we’re still actively hiring.”
Although the site is located in Davidson County, it’s provided a place of employment for Rowan County residents like Ebel, who has lived in Salisbury for the previous nine years. Having a major employer just a few minutes across the county line is a major boost for Rowan, said Rod Crider, president of the Rowan Economic Development Commission.
“We are excited about the beginning of production at EGGER and wish them many years of success in their new Davidson County location,” Crider said. “With them being 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 meet its hiring goals, EGGER has partnered with Davidson Community College to form the Apprenticeship Consortium that allows new employees in the company to undergo several years of paid training as they learn the trade. Holmes said that participants in the program bring passion to the facility.
“We’re giving them the opportunity here to earn their education while learning and growing to become the foundation of our maintenance and engineering department,” Holmes said. “They’ve infused a lot of life and energy into the site.”
The EGGER site will continue to grow in the coming years in employment and production capacity. There are plans to add two more board lamination presses down the line, Ebel said.
As the site develops over time, a reminder of the facility’s beginnings will always be present.
“The whole production project team signed the first lamination and particleboard (that were produced in the facility),” Ebel said. “Those boards will be displayed in the plant for posterity’s sake.”
A listing of open jobs at the EGGER facility can be found at egger.bamboohr.com/jobs/.