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On the edge

Roaring Spring plant leading wood veneer producer

Silke Hoover (right) explains how she grades raw veneer to Rep. John Joyce, R-13th -District, at Edgemate Inc. in Roaring Spring as vice president Nick Benjamin listens in during a tour of the facility. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

ROARING SPRING — One of the largest producers of edge banding in the world can be found in Blair County.

Edgemate creates wood veneer sheets, veneer edge banding and associated products in a Morrisons Cove facility located along Smith Transport Road. Vice President Nicholas Benjamin said his father, Harry, bought the business from Westvaco in 2000, but it has been in existence since 1967.

Congressman John Joyce, R-13th District, toured the high-capacity production facility Tuesday afternoon to learn about the manufacturing process as a part of his regional economic tour.

The products that Edgemate manufactures are sold throughout North America, Central America and the Far East. The company also boasts the proprietary rights to the highest technology hot-press wood veneer edge banding system in the industry.

Benjamin said Edgemate is “arguably one of the top, one of the largest producers of edge banding in the world.”

Edgemate is one of two companies in the United States that make these products domestically, while competitors import similar goods from China or European countries such as Slovenia and Germany, Benjamin said.

Edge banding covers the raw edges of plywood and is used to finish items such as shelves, while veneer sheets are used on doors, cabinet faces and conference tables, according to Benjamin.

“You get a nice, solid looking piece by using edge banding,” he said.

The process of making veneer sheets and edge banding begins with raw wood that the company tries to get locally, but it also sources from Midwest states like Michigan, Kentucky and Indiana.

From raw material to a finished product, if the process ran non-stop, it would take about a day to produce a single roll of edge banding or veneer, Benjamin said. It takes two to three weeks to complete the work orders they usually receive.

However, supply issues have been a problem over the past few months.

Rising costs on all raw materials is something the company has not experienced very often in the past.

Benjamin said though, that he is “starting to see it more and more now, within the last three to six months.”

Edgemate is not immune to the supply chain disruptions, seeing higher rates for shipping and more demand for products as imports are held up in ports around the country.

“Shipping rates are skyrocketing,” Benjamin said. “Month over month it’s up 20, 25 percent.”

Benjamin said lead times “used to be two weeks on a stock order — but they’re up to seven or eight weeks just because of our increased demand from everyone else wanting to buy from us because of our competitors’ delays in shipping and the containers that are all stuck in the ocean.”

With more demand, Benjamin said the company is looking to hire more workers, but that has been a problem, too, as it has been for many other businesses.

Orders ready to head out to California, Iowa and Massachusetts could be seen sitting on pallets on the factory floor.

Of the approximately 35 employees the company does have, Benjamin estimates that about 80% have been employed there for at least five years, some 10.

“A few people are retired and are working part time just because we can’t replace them with newer employees,” Benjamin said.

Joyce acknowledged the problem, adding that Edgemate will train new hires.

Benjamin said the company offers various incentives to its employees such as an extra dollar an hour just for working 40 hours a week and a higher overtime rate if they work a certain amount of overtime.

During his visit, Joyce had the chance to talk with employees out on the floor.

“There are workers who have honed their skills and have become very adept at making this one of the top laminate manufacturers not only in the United States, but in the world,” Joyce said. “That’s occurring right here in Blair County.”

Mirror Staff Writer Rachel Foor is at 814-946-7458.

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