Tyrone – When Lynne Johnson dropped her computer and wound a plank on her new plank floor, she replaced the plank with another plank under the sofa, not telling her husband.
The system eliminates one of the major drawbacks of traditional tongue-and-groove hardwood, which is bolted and bolted together from wall to wall, making it difficult to replace individual panels.
Lynne Johnson admitted her computer accident Thursday at an event at her husband’s Tyrone company to acknowledge a $500,000 loan to Steller from the State Department’s Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.
The epiphany behind the idea for the company stemmed from the wood products consulting business of co-founder Evan Stover with his father, Lee Stover—a business that began after Lee retired as director of the wood products division of the Pennsylvania Extension.
As a consultant, Evan said, Stovers often advises contractors on what to do about tongue-and-groove wood floors that have shrunk or split due to excessive moisture and other issues.
One day at lunch, his father noticed that all these problems had occurred because of nailing – and that if the wood could expand and contract freely, the problems would go away.
That night, Evan went home and devised the basics of the system his company had implemented three years earlier, a setup that allows the hardwood floor “Float” On a lower floor, it expands and contracts without restriction, he said.
In the Steller system, the underside of the boards is grooved along the edges so they can snap to the edges on the plastic ducts in the subfloor, running the length of each board and filling the gap between the individual boards.
The flooring is installed each plank individually, with a channel attached to the leading edge of the next plank before it is laid down, after which a new plank is cut into the channel.
The individual plates are removed using a special suction cup.
This easy removal is not only useful when there is a call to replace a single panel but also to install or move ground electrical outlets or heating vents, according to Johnson and Evan Stover.
Evan Stover, who was co-founded by his wife Britta Teller, said the Stellar process is patented, and the name of the company, mixed with her husband’s name, includes the name of the company.
Evan said the patent on tongue-and-groove floors expired 100 years ago, and the new patent is the first such advancement for hardwood floors since then.
The ease of removing and replacing individual panels, he said, was an incidental advantage.
Evan said there are other things, including the ability for owners to resell an already installed floor or contract with a company to remove a store floor and restore or refinish, then reinstall.
Evan said the process requires precision manufacturing and extreme humidity control.
Evan said the tolerance is more common in metalwork than woodworking—generally 0.003 inches. Tolerances in woodworking are usually 10 times greater.
Close tolerances are necessary for grooves entering the channels.
The company requires kiln-drying companies to deliver oak, maple, and ash wood at 45 percent moisture—typical for a home.
Evan said the shop itself is kept at a humidity of 45 percent and 70 degrees, which is typical for a home.
Keeping the environment constant helps ensure the company’s stock of shingles remains within appropriate tolerances.
Staining and stamping these boards to specific orders helps ensure that the wood remains within tolerances under the most diverse conditions.
He said the company sells directly to many homeowners, who can do the work themselves.
Johnson said that contractors who know about the system are skeptical at first, until they see it clear.
When they realize how easy it is to install, they say, “My God,” He said.
The Evan concept was developed about five years ago and became marketable about three years ago, according to Johnson.
growth was “accelerated,” Officials said at the press conference.
The current plant is about 10,000 square feet, but within five years, the company will likely need ten times that space to keep up with demand, Johnson said.
Officials said it would also need more skilled staff.
This means that it will need additional capital, including support from the state.
Britta Teller said managers wanted to keep the company in Tyrone, in line with an early appeal from Senator Judy Ward, who was at the event.
Evan was born in Tyrone. His father was a longtime member of the Tyrone District School Board.
The desire to develop an entrepreneurial effort in the original district is in line with a trend that has gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic, when everyone seemed to be focusing more on the home, who spoke at the event, said Richard Filo, DCED’s Deputy Secretary of Community Affairs and Development.
Older communities like Tyrone could return, Filiello said, and companies like Steller are the kinds of organizations that can help make that happen.
Stellar works with several lumber mills, all of which take their lumber from 150 miles from Tyrone, according to Johnson.
Johnson said Tyrone is ideally placed to access sustainably harvested hardwoods.
Mirror Staff writer William Keibler is available at 814-949-7038.