Summitville is well-named— it's a small community on a steep hill, south of New Holland, Pennsylvania. On a family farm near the hill is Summitville Woodworking, a small business that uses old wood and tin to make outdoor decorations like benches, planters, and birdhouses.
Summitville Woodworking is our third Made in Lancaster County small business, located only ten minutes from our East Earl Good's Store.
The owner of Summitville Woodworking, Amos Lapp, explains that the main shop on the property is all for the business. The other barns are used for both the woodworking and the farm. "We have a herd of goats and some heifers."
Outside, there are stacks and stacks of lumber and tin, waiting to be re-purposed.
“The recycled materials come from fence contractors or old barns. The tin comes from old barns. The wood comes from wherever. Old decks. It saves the contractors money because they don’t have to take them to the landfill," says Amos.
“Certain woods will last for years, others will crack.”
He’s even recycled some of his own work. “When I started, I put siding on my barn, and then seventeen years later, we took it off and made birdhouses with it.”
And if the wood is completely worthless? “There’s always stuff I can’t use.” To heat the shop, useless wood is burned in an enormous outdoor furnace, which is chugging away on this cold winter day.
One of Amos's neighbors is loading up with scraps to take to his home. He'll do some of the work there.
Inside the shop, workers are cutting up tin and shaping it into roofs for birdhouses. "We have six employees, some of them part-time," says Amos. "My family helps—we have four girls, and my wife helps a lot."
Summitville makes at least fifty different products. “Mostly decorative. Our products go all over. I have a dealer in Canada, and last week someone was here from Montana."
When Covid hit last year, Amos says, "It was real slow, almost shut down, for about a month. After that, business picked up. People moved from the city to the country, and they want to decorate the yard.”
Summitville Woodworking has been in business for over twenty years. I ask Amos if he has any advice for beginning entrepreneurs. “Be flexible, find your niche, and stick to it.”
"I started part-time in ’98." Eventually Amos starting working full-time at his woodworking business. “I was tired of my old job working for a carpenter".
“I definitely would have made more money working somewhere else for the first ten years. It was a sacrifice in that way, but I’m still glad I did it.”
(Photos by Susan Burkholder.)