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Our Story 

The story of Edward H Best and the Best Felt company is intertwined with the industrial history of Camden, Maine. Originally a bustling blue-collar town, Camden was home to numerous manufacturing enterprises, including sawmills, gristmills, carriage factories, and shipyards. The Knox Woolen Mill, powered by the Megunticook River, stood as a prominent symbol of Camden's industrial prowess from the mid-1800s to 1988. Within the Knox Woolen Mill, the machines that produced woolen felts for the Edward H. Best Company of Hanover Massachusetts operated. When economic changes led to the closure of the Knox Mill in the late 20th century, John Rosseel, owner of the Edward H Best company, recognized the potential in the historic machinery used in the Knox Woolen Mill. In 1983, he purchased the equipment and relocated it to Thomaston, Maine. Under Rosseel's ownership and the guidance of dedicated individuals, the Edward H. Best Company continued its legacy of producing traditional woolen felts for niche markets and industrial manufacturers worldwide. 

Our Vision

John Karp and David Erb, business partners in Windward Ventures LLC and together the new owners of Edward H. Best Company, bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the table, revitalizing a historic enterprise and positioning it for future success. Karp, a seasoned business builder with a background in startups and turnarounds, brings strategic vision and leadership as CEO. His experience spans various industries, from high-performance acoustic instruments to medical devices, showcasing his adaptability and entrepreneurial acumen. On the other hand, David Erb, with his extensive career in technical felts and composites, serves as the president, bringing invaluable knowledge in manufacturing and research. His background in leading research and development programs at Tex-Tech Industries and the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center underscores his proficiency in materials science and innovation. Together, Karp and Erb represent a dynamic duo committed to modernizing and expanding Edward H. Best Company's traditional textile production line. Their joint efforts aim to leverage existing strengths while integrating state-of-the-art technology to meet evolving market demands. Their partnership exemplifies a blend of tradition and innovation, ensuring the company's continued relevance in the 21st-century landscape. 


John Karp, a seasoned entrepreneur with a knack for business development, has embarked on a new venture with Windward Ventures LLC. With a background in leading startups and turnarounds, including Bourgeois Guitars and Syris Scientific, Karp brings a wealth of experience to his role as CEO of Edward H. Best Company. His expertise extends to business coaching at the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Maine Technology Institute, where he continues to guide and mentor emerging businesses. Karp's vision for Edward H. Best involves modernizing traditional textile production while preserving its rich history, paving the way for future growth and innovation.



David Erb, a retired US Air Force Major, and a seasoned veteran in technical felts and composites, brings a wealth of expertise to the Edward H. Best Company. With a background as the former Research Director at Tex Tech Industries and most recently  serving as a Senior R&D Program Manager at the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center, Erb's knowledge spans across various industries. His long-term friendship with the former owner, John Rosseel, underscores his familiarity with the company's operations. Now, as the president of Edward H. Best, Erb is poised to lead the company into a new era of innovation and growth, leveraging his extensive experience in technical textiles and research.



Shirley Hocking, VP & General Manager, the backbone of Edward H. Best Company, has dedicated over 38 years to its day-to-day operations. Starting as an administrative assistant, she rose to become the vice president and plant manager, overseeing the intricate processes of traditional textile production. Hocking's steadfast commitment and deep knowledge of the business ensure continuity as the company transitions under new leadership. Her role in training and mentoring new employees is invaluable, providing stability and expertise during this period of expansion and modernization. With her leadership,the Edward H. Best Company is poised to thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of Industrial Textiles.


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