Woman in western N.C. makes eco-friendly coffins
MORGANTON — Elvy Bryan is proof inspiration can find you anywhere. Bryan had spent her summer looking for caskets to make funeral arrangements for the day she "graduates" this world and heads for heavenly eternity, she said.
Each casket was too big, too heavy and too costly. Most were made internationally and were not what she wanted for her burial.
So she decided to make her own.
Bryan enlisted the help of her childhood friend, Ed Phifer who serves as vice chairman of EJ Victor, and Phifer put her in touch with Don Clark, president of SpartaCraft Custom Woodworks.
SpartaCraft is a Connelly Springs-operated business specializing in flag cases for military funerals.
"SpartaCraft makes this affordable, economical and more importantly-made in the USA," Bryan said.
Bryan approached Clark with the intention to create a quality, custom, American-made product to be a body's final resting place.
From the idea came Exodus CoffinWorks, Inc., a company committed to eco-friendly, cost effective, locally-made coffins. The company started in September.
The wooden coffins come in three varieties of cherry, walnut and white pine. The wood is brought in as flat plywood sheets from Lincolnton.
Using a Biesse Rover B machine, each part of the coffin is cut from the plywood. The Biesse Rover B utilizes tool components and a computer to cut exact shapes from wood.
"The key to this is a computer-controlled machine," Clark said. "This allows us to put flat pieces of plywood on the machine. All the work is done at the beginning."
After being cut, the pieces are sanded, stained and sealed before being glued together.
Exodus CoffinWorks, Inc. has created a signature flip top for more convenience during funeral visitations.
"It has a unique, signature flip-back," Bryan said. "It's going to help so much in display as well as viewing."
The finished products are filled with a liner and pillow developed at Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company.
Clark said the quality of Exodus CoffinWorks, Inc. sets them apart from imported competition.
"You've got to have technology or customization to beat imports," he said. "And that's what we do."
Other local companies contributing to the work of Exodus CoffinWorks, Inc. include kV2 Design, with Ken Volz Jr. helping to design the coffins, and MESH Design Group, LLC designing all the marketing materials.
Keeping with the focus on local jobs, Gary Eller Photography snapped the photos of the coffins for promotional pieces while Table Rock Printers took care of most printing needs for Exodus CoffinWorks, Inc.
After production, the coffins are wrapped in moving blankets and delivered by Morganton-based Northwest Furniture Express.