Philipsburg company grows up with brand-new facility

DiamondBack employee Derb Hummel welds parts of a truck cover together on July 14 in the company’s new facility in the Moshannon Valley Regional Business Park.
DiamondBack employee Derb Hummel welds parts of a truck cover together on July 14 in the company’s new facility in the Moshannon Valley Regional Business Park.

When DiamondBack Truck Covers moved into the Moshannon Valley Enterprise Center more than a decade ago, the space was the perfect spot for the startup company, despite what employees describe as some dungeon-like qualities.

Now, the $3.8 million, 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility located in the Moshannon Valley Regional Business Park is the perfect place for a leading truck cover manufacturer and retailer that has spent five years as an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company. It’s no accident — the facility was designed from scratch around DiamondBack’s specific production process, with the goal of increasing efficiency.

“When we got to this facility it was kind of like a blank slate,” co-owner and co-founder Ethan Wendle said. “We took everything we learned over 12 years and made it better.”

The previous location was about 25,000 square feet, but because the layout in the new facility is completely different, Wendle said usable space has almost doubled.

“This is designed for what we do,” he said.

DiamondBack makes and sells pickup truck bed covers direct to customers across the country. The hard covers allow for customers to protect and lock items in the truck bed, with a heavy duty model that’s unique in the industry for being able to haul up to 1,600 pounds on the top of the cover.

Co-owner and co-founder Matt Chverchko originally designed the cover when he and Wendle were Penn State engineering students. What started as a class project turned into a small business in 2003, and they chose Philipsburg as DiamondBack’s home because of the cost of rent compared to that in State College.

“DiamondBack is a fabulous example of how you start out in a Penn State dorm room and then you decide to stay in Centre County because of (Moshannon Valley Economic Development Partnership Executive Director) Stan LaFuria and his team at MVEDP,” Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins said.

MVEDP was there from the beginning to assist the company, starting with the space in the Moshannon Valley Enterprise Center that was $500 a month when DiamondBack first moved in, LaFuria said.

“We’ve have 74 different companies in this building over the past 26 years. ... You always wonder ‘is this something that’s going to work?’ ” LaFuria said. “We always believed in those guys.”

For LaFuria, a company growing up and growing out of the Moshannon Valley Enterprise Center is always the goal.

“It’s a cherry on top when a company graduates out and builds their own facility,” he said.

DiamondBack has about 60 employees, and Wendle said hiring continues — an increase that’s a combination of the new facility and business growth.

“We’ve been hiring almost nonstop this year,” he said. “We’ve hired about 20 percent more staff in the past year.”

According to Wendle, the new facility was designed largely with those employees in mind. Examples are 30-foot ceilings above production lines, large windows that let in natural light and a large break room/kitchen space that employees can sign out for personal parties and get-togethers.

“In 2014, we decided to build our own facility and design a lot of different elements so that it didn’t feel like a typical manufacturing facility,” Wendle said.

Plant manager Patrick Hanlon said the workers are excited to be in the new location, which has also sped up production.

“The entire thing was done largely to improve the process and to help us keep us with the growth of the company,” he said.

While there’s plenty of room to grow at the new facility, Wendle also has his eye on future expansion, which he said could include an additional plant out West.

Jessica McAllister: 814-231-4617, @JMcAllisterCDT