IndustryWeek: Manufacturing Marches On

Ramping Up Production in North Carolina

Our final stop moves south, to Lexington, North Carolina, which recently became home to EGGER Group’s 20th manufacturing plant. It is also the Austrian company’s first site in North America, developed to better serve the U.S. market. Here the manufacturer will produce both raw particleboard as well as thermally fused laminate, of TFL, board. “Will produce” may be a slightly inaccurate description given that the facility started production in September. Nevertheless, full production is still ramping up. The workforce numbers around 300, and Carsten Ritterbach, plant manager, Commercial Services, said the desire is to grow that number to about 750 people.

Like both the Navistar and Ultium Cells projects, EGGER’s new manufacturing site is large, and it, too, is a greenfield build. It encompasses 240 acres, with about 1.1 million square feet under roof. Construction of the facility began in late 2018.

Ritterbach describes the Lexington plant as the “most modern plant in the world” for the type of product it manufactures. The company established a training facility for potential hires well in advance of the plant’s opening—not EGGER’s typical pattern for new production sites—to both assure the right people were brought on board, but also to introduce them to the EGGER culture. There was yet a third reason.

“It’s a new continent for us,” Ritterbach says. “This was our step to the U.S., to North America. And we said, we have to train the people to understand EGGER. We sent them also to Austria, to Germany, to Poland and other plants to see how to work with the product, how to drive a forklift, and so on and so on. This was very important for us to start from the very beginning with the right mindset.”

The plant manager also gave kudos to the Lexington area. “We are feeling really comfortable here, with the people and with the possibilities we have all around the plant,” he says. “Also for us, we want to be a good employer.”

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