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Kings Mountain International stands alone as press plate manufacturer

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As the only press plate manufacturer for the decorative surfaces industry in the Western Hemisphere, Kings Mountain International takes its position seriously.

Not only does KMI invest in state-of-the-art equipment and rebuilds to meet the market’s continually changing demands, but the company prides itself on being at the cutting edge of product innovation.

More than 10 years ago, for example, KMI was one of the first plate manufacturers to align a press plate with décor print to create a synchronized final product for laminate flooring. Now, with the expansion of synchronized designs into thermally fused laminate, KMI is capitalizing on its technical expertise to respond to the market. To capture and document its manufacturing developments, the company has patented its Syncro Registration® or SR® process.

“KMI’s focus is on our customers and how we can continuously improve to better serve them through design, service and new technologies,” said Steve Wagenknight, president and CEO.

Kings Mountain first opened its doors in 2005 in the beautiful, small town of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, about 35 miles west of Charlotte. Wagenknight selected the region because it offered a central location to service all segments of the decorative surfaces industry—laminate flooring, thermally fused laminate (TFL) and high pressure laminate (HPL)—throughout North and South America.

“When we opened for business in 2005, I remember traveling North America seeking customers,” said Don Jones, corporate director of sales. “The great feeling is when we achieved new customers, they became long-term customers and are the backbone of our success.”

KMI produces press plates with chemically and mechanically etched finishes, along with mattes and mirrors. It also offers refurbishing (removal of chrome and replacement of finish) and reglossing (removal of chrome and adjustment of surface to required gloss level) services.

Beyond press plates, KMI provides precision-grinding and polishing services for the global aerospace industry and is ISO 9001:2015/AS9100D certified. On the lighter side, Apple and the NFL’s Carolina Panthers worked with KMI to produce large stainless-steel logos for their global showrooms and stadium suites, respectively.

In a drive to expand its product portfolio to the decorative surfaces industry, KMI on Jan. 1 became the sole sales agency in North America for press pads from Heimbach Specialties of Belgium and Marathon Belting Ltd of England.  Heimbach Specialties and Marathon Belting manufacture Thermax™ and UltiMat™ pressure compensating pads used in TFL, HPL and flooring. The pads also are used to produce plywood and veneer panels.

KMI’s leadership team comprises veteran industry professionals with the knowledge and experience to guide their customers toward the proper solution or value proposition that meets or exceeds their needs. Along with Wagenknight and Jones, the team includes Martin Endert, director of graphic arts; Fran Vahle, sales director for press plate and press pads; Reiner Groth, technical director; Bill Trautman, technical sales; and Melissa Bilotta, plant manager.

Endert and his graphics team work individually with customers to create new, unique finishes, featuring textures that reflect the haptic influences of today’s market. Endert publishes design booklets twice a year that reflect his thoughts from Heimtextil and Salone del Mobile.

KMI has nearly 100 employees, and its 130,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is located on an 18-acre site, giving the company ample room for expansion.

 “KMI is well-positioned to bring value to our customers in the Americas through our manufacturing expertise, commitment to continuous process improvement and convenient U.S. location,” Vahle said. “Furthermore, KMI understands the necessity to listen and work closely with our customers and their key suppliers, such as printers and treaters, to create a pleasing final product.”

KMI will exhibit at the International Woodworking Fair (IWF), Building C, Booth 2440, in August.