Since their start in 1999 by Doug and Denise Edwards, Edwards Interiors, Inc. made it their mission to provide the best quality products to their loyal customers. The business started as a contract company, working on a few projects for local aerospace manufacturers. Soon after, now COO Brad Griffin came on board as the first full-time employee. As those few projects became many, they realized that bigger opportunities were opening up for them. The business started off small but soon began hiring more full-time employees. "Our capabilities started to grow as well- we started out doing hand tool work with limited technology. Then the demands of the projects grew to need to add a CNC machine," Brad explains. A CNC machine is an electro-mechanical device that manipulates machine shop tools through computer programming. "We went to a company in North Carolina and bought our first one, which helped us much more capability than we had before - from human power to computer programming. We still use the hand tools every day, too. It's a mix of traditional and high-tech work."
In the early days, Edwards focused on airplane cabinetry. Now, "we have about 30,000 different parts we can produce," Brad adds. Edwards Interiors currently employs 324 machinists, engineers, planners, quality control staff, management, and more. They've seen around 8% growth annually and are one of the biggest employers in Effingham County.
While they still do a lot of interior and cabinetry work for airplanes, pieces and parts are now a major focus of the company. Strong and lightweight parts are needed for all aspects of the interior of an aircraft, all approved by FAA testing. "Everyone wants to have the safest aircraft," Brad explains, "so there's always a demand to keep innovating when it comes to the parts of a plane." Everything is stress tested- even a seemingly simple-looking part can be very complicated to make, and even the most precise details make all the difference.
Being located in Coastal Georgia is as much a part of Edwards Interiors' story as anything else. "The proximity is good for our customers, and it helps to be close to Savannah and Brunswick, but we supply to more locations than those. Now we've grown so much as a part of the supply chain, we really send products much further than we used to." Still, Doug and Brad are both locals and having grown up in Effingham County makes this hometown success story even more special. "Most of our workforce is made up of local people, though we do bring in some positions as needed," says Brad. "When we started, it was literally extended family. We've grown so much since then, but that feeling is the same. We're proud of the opportunity we give to our staff and our community."
One major focus of the company is to give back to the community that started it all twenty years ago. They are known for designing and then donating the materials for the Georgia Southern University locker rooms. EII also contributed the cabinets for the local recreation complex located in Effingham County. They also do work with local churches and non-profit organizations, especially the Josh Reddick Foundation.
Edwards Interiors, Inc. work just as closely with Savannah Technical College to provide training programs for new supervisors transitioning into managerial roles. “They work to help and influence the programs of the local career academy. Savannah Technical College also works on customized TIG welding training programs for our employees,” Griffin adds.
Throughout the plant, the focus on quality products and employee safety is evident. From the intake of the raw materials, to the engineers mapping out their paths, to the machines that mold each one into their destined product, to the careful quality inspections- Edwards Interiors, Inc. is not only strengthening the aircrafts we fly in, but the community its from and the name its built for itself.