Wood-Mode to layoff 90 workers

Wood-Mode will lay off 90 of its 1,100-person workforce "over the next four weeks to accommodate the overall reduction in its cabinet sales volume, " said Tom Morgensen, the company's vice president of human resources.

"It's unfortunate," Morgensen said late Monday afternoon after the announcement. "It's sad, and we regret having to take the action, but it's a business decision."

The layoffs are due to the extended length of the recession in the housing industry and its effect on an already fragile cabinet and remodeling market, he said.

Company executives remain optimistic that orders will gradually increase when the economics of the housing industry and its customer base improve in 2012, Morgensen added.

"We certainly hope that some employees will be reinstated if things pick up," he said.

State Rep. Fred Keller, R-85 of Kreamer, said: "My heart goes out to the people who will be laid off. You know, I have friends and some family who work at Wood-Mode."

Keller said that when he was a manager at Conestoga Wood Specialties in Beavertown, "I had to look people in the eye and say that I had to lay them off, even though they were doing a good job. It had nothing to do with their job performance. And it was hard."

Keller said there is no easy answer to reversing the economic trends in the housing industry. "I'm thinking that prevailing wage reform will help," he said. "Taxing people less so that they have more money on hand to spend as they see fit. We need to be more responsive in that way at the state level."

Wood-Mode has shed about 50 percent of its workforce during the economic downturn. The company -- the largest employer in Snyder County -- employed almost 2,000 workers in 2007.

Wood-Mode manufactures custom kitchen cabinets and counter tops with hardware, laminates and moldings.

Source: Daily Item