February 21, 2012
By GINNY WRAY - Bulletin Staff Writer
Fred Zoeller describes Laminate Technologies (LamTech) as a “conservative, nuts-and-bolts company” that produces customized laminated panels and fabricated components for kitchen cabinets, furniture and store fixtures.
LamTech announced Monday that it will open a plant in Henry County and create 30 jobs.
The firm has about 150 employees at its three existing operations. It has its headquarters in Tiffin, Ohio, and it also has plants in Gallatin, Tenn., and Diboll, Texas.
Freight is a factor for LamTech, which is why its plants are in different areas of the country where it can serve its customers easily, said Zoeller, the co-founder, president and CEO of LamTech.
He and his wife started the company in 1985. According to a news release from Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office, LamTech has become one of the largest privately held custom laminators/fabricators in the United States.
Zoeller declined to give sales figures, but he said sales rose 23 percent in 2011 and 38 percent in 2010.
The company prefers to keep its operations small, he said, with 50 or fewer employees and buildings of less than 100,000 square feet.
LamTech manufactures customized laminated panels and fabricated components. It supplies many kitchen cabinet manufacturers, including MasterBrand Cabinets in Henry County.
The kitchen cabinet-related field forms a majority of LamTech’s customer base, and company sales have increased despite the declines in homebuilding in the past few years, Zoeller said. Those declines are ending, he said, cautioning that homebuilding may never return to prerecession levels.
But, he said, “we feel like the market has bottomed out,” and LamTech wants to be positioned to take advantage of a rebound.
Zoeller said he believes furniture manufacturing also will return to this area. Again, his company wants to be a part of that.
LamTech produces racks for stores. Zoeller said most stores remodel every five years, but with the economic downturn, many have put that off. He said he thinks that aspect of LamTech’s business will grow during the next five to 10 years to meet that pent-up demand.
Zoeller said one of the things he is most proud of is that employees often stay with the company for years. The officials traveling with him Monday have been with the company between seven and 15 years.
“We want to be involved in the community” and the local chamber of commerce, he said, adding that he is involved in economic development and other activities in Ohio.
“We’re excited to be here. Now we have to get down to work,” he added.
Henry County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Adams said Monday’s announcement is the first of several expected this year, and he hopes there will be more in the first quarter of the year, which will end in March.
Business appears to be picking up, Adams added.
Mark Heath, president/CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., also said he hopes there will be more economic development announcements in the near future. He predicted it will be a “good spring,” though he added that the competition for business is tough.
The economy still is slow, “but there are good signs that it is beginning to dig out” of the downturn, he said.
Heath thinks there is a lot of pent-up energy and demand on the part of businesses but said that lawmakers in Washington need to “get their hands around something” and end the uncertainties over the nation’s debt, health care, environmental issues and others.
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