FREEBURG — Lewisburg tax specialist Maurice Brubaker is starting a new high-end cabinet-making firm in Freeburg and employing former Wood-Mode Inc. employees to run it.
William Penn Cabinetry LLC is located at the former Colonial Furniture Company that stopped production in 2018 after 53 years.
It’s a new venture for Brubaker that came about following the abrupt closure of Wood-Mode Inc. in Kreamer last May that left 983 jobless and a community stunned.
William Penn Cabinetry has started bidding on several contracts and will begin hiring once they secure orders, said Brubaker who aims to employ 300 people within two years.
Brubaker was among the potential buyers who wanted to revive the 77-year-old company and put people back to work.
“It not only affected the local economy, but it also had a nationwide impact,” he said of the shutdown, adding that he felt compelled to get involved in saving jobs.
He met with Doug Lauver, a veteran Wood-Mode Inc. supervisor, and came up with a plan to buy the company.
Instead, Wood-Mode Inc. assets were sold in August to Middleburg Bill French who has since restarted production and hired about 250 employees at his company, Wood-Mode LLC.
After his bid to purchase the company fell through Brubaker couldn’t shake the idea of helping out the economically-devastated community. He continued to talk with Lauver and they decided to pursue building a cabinet manufacturing firm “from scratch.
“I wish Bill French the best, “ said Brubaker. “There is more than enough room for another player.”
Dennis Van, the owner of Colonial Furniture who continues to operate the factory outlet in Freeburg with leftover inventory, agrees there is plenty of demand for high-end cabinetry. He received several offers from cabinet makers to buy his 85,000-square-foot plant and 10,400-square-foot showroom in Freeburg following Wood-Mode Inc.’s closure but decided to sell to Brubaker.
“He’s local and I’ve known him a long time,” Van said of Brubaker, a frequent customer. Lauver’s grandfather was also a longtime employee of Van’s.
Lauver and Bud Tittle, a former Wood-Mode Inc. manager, have been cleaning out the plant, removing walls and installing new LED lighting throughout in preparation for new state-of-the-art equipment that will begin arriving this week.
“Starting a new business is a real challenge and exciting,” said Tittle, who’s looking forward to using the experience he gained working nearly 40 years in the cabinet building industry to come up with new designs.
William Penn Cabinetry has bid on several contracts and will begin hiring once they secure orders, said Brubaker who aims to employ 300 people within two years.
Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz said he’s “excited” to see the new company develop.
“it’s great to see an under-utilized building be put to use for new manufacturing jobs in Freeburg once again,” he said.
Lauver said prospective workers are already stopping at the plant every day to drop off applications.
Brubaker is confident he’s hired competent and experienced people to run the company while he focuses on his family’s tax preparation business in Lewisburg.
His wife and co-worker, Deb, is supportive of the endeavor.
“I’m sure proud of him and proud of Doug,” she said.