Wood-Mode dealers like Lee Anna O'Daniel are breathing a sigh of relief today following Thursday's purchase of the Kreamer company's assets by a Middleburg businessman.
"This is definitely a God-send for us," said O'Daniel, a dealer from San Luis Obispo, California, who began selling Wood-Mode cabinets 37 years ago and only the company's products for the past 10 years. "I have a huge showroom of Wood-Mode products."
French announced Thursday that he finalized an agreement to buy Wood-Mode's assets only and hopes to hire between 200 and 500 people.
When the plant closed suddenly on May 13 after 77 years in business, 938 people were immediately terminated and hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory was left on the plant floor.
O'Daniel had nine orders in various stages of development when the plant shut down.
She said three customers opted to wait to see if their orders could be delivered once they learned in late June that Bill French, the owner of Professional Building Systems of PA, had a tentative agreement to buy Wood-Mode's assets.
One customer has $55,000 worth of cabinets on order and O'Daniel said she hopes to deliver them soon.
"I've looked at a lot of other cabinet lines and none offer the same custom work at an affordable price," she said.
O'Daniel said French has an opportunity to build a strong business if he rehires dedicated and experienced employees.
"If he does that I think it will be an even better company," she said.
Former employee Mike Brosius had 33 years of experience when he was laid off along with his colleagues in May. He hasn't found another job and said he'd be interested in getting back to the plant and making it even more successful.
Tammy Heeter, who worked at the plant for 19 years, said she worries there won't be a job for her as French begins hiring production workers in the next few weeks.
"They're looking for people who can do more than one thing. I'm not overly confident I'll be offered anything," the Beavertown resident said.
French said the company will be offering training to rehired workers who will be required to work in different areas of the production line.