U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is asking Wood-Mode Chairman Robert Gronlund to explain why the Kreamer company abruptly closed on May 13 and to help the 938 former workers and their families.
“I write today to ask you to do all that you can to ensure the affected employees, community agencies and Rapid Response Assistance in Pennsylvania have supportive information regarding the reasons behind the sudden closure, and I urge you to give full consideration to any options that could support the impacted workers and their families during this difficult time,” Casey wrote in a letter addressed to Gronlund Tuesday. “Thanks to the dedicated employees who provided the fine craftsmanship of your products, Wood-Mode enjoyed a prosperous 80-year history in Snyder County.
“The workers and the surrounding community put their faith and trust into you and your son, Brooks, the company CEO. I am asking you to do right by them.”
Former employees don’t expect Casey will get a response.
“I can’t even get information on my 401(k) from the U.S. Department of Labor, how in the world can I expect someone who kicked me to the curb will help?” said Joseph Feehrer, of Beavertown.
The only statement Wood-Mode officials have made came from human resources manager Dave Scarr on the day of the plant closure, which he said came about when a sale fell through a week earlier and the owners were unable to secure more funding to keep the company operating.
Former cabinet maker Chris Moyer said the sudden plant closure followed five days later by the termination of the employee insurance and other benefits was a staggering blow.
“I didn’t expect this from (the Gronlunds). They were so employee-oriented that it took us all by surprise,” Moyer said.
Calls to Robert and Brooks Gronlund were not returned to The Daily Item Tuesday.
Lee Anna O’Daniel, a Wood-Mode dealer since 1984 based in California, wrote to the Gronlunds asking them to send her $30,000 cabinet order no later than July 15. Most of the cabinets are ready to be shipped, she said.
O’Daniel asked the pair “to step up and come to grips with the whole situation” by selling the company to a firm willing and able to reopen the plant rather than liquidate assets.
“The brand name is definitely worth saving, as are all the jobs, the town of Kreamer, and the dealer network, which includes jobs across the entire nation,” she said in the letter. “There are hundreds of dealers across the country in the same predicament — our very reputations rest on the recovery of Wood-Mode.”
Casey also sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor to approve the Trade Adjustment Petition to provide short-term assistance for the workers including job training, to the former employees.