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Robert Inglis/The Daily Item William Penn Cabinetry owners Maurice and Deb Brubaker talk about where the company is and where they want it to go.

SELINSGROVE — Wood-Metal filed for bankruptcy Friday in an effort to save the business and negotiations with lenders are underway on behalf of William Penn Cabinetry and Stanley Woodworking, an attorney said Friday.

“William Penn is closed and probably will not reopen. We’re hopeful Stanley Woodworking and Wood-Metal will survive,” said Robert Chernicoff, a Harrisburg attorney who specializes in Chapter 11 cases retained by business owners Maurice and Deb Brubaker.

Chapter 11 allows companies to restructure payment plans to creditors while remaining in business.

Chernicoff said negotiations to determine options for the two other companies — including bankruptcy or asset liquidation — are continuing.

More than 100 employees have been impacted by the financial struggles of the three companies owned by the Brubakers, married tax specialists who live in Selinsgrove. The couple declined to comment Friday.

They launched William Penn Cabinetry, a start-up high-end cabinet manufacturer in Freeburg in February 2020, and purchased Stanley Woodworking, a 40-year-old Middleburg company, one month later just as the global health pandemic struck.

In early 2021, the couple obtained a three-year, $500,000 CARES Act loan and more than $370,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Chernicoff, a former assistant attorney general with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and assistant chief counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, said the loans should not prohibit a bankruptcy filing.

In October, production at William Penn shut down. Work has slowed considerably at Stanley and only a handful of the 25 employees are still working there.

Employees and others said problems began this summer when the Brubakers began bouncing checks and failed to inform employees for months that they had dropped benefits while continuing to deduct contributions from their paychecks.

On Friday, Stanley Woodworking employee Wendi Clark filed a civil claim in District Judge John Reed’s Selinsgrove office against the Brubakers to recoup $779.40 she said they deducted for retirement and disability benefits that had been dropped.

“They owe me that money and keep saying they’ll pay it. I’m done dealing with them,” said Clark who, like several of Brubakers’ employees, had insurance, retirement and disability contributions deducted for several months without informing them the benefits had been dropped. “If they file bankruptcy, we don’t get anything.”

Despite defaulting in June on a payment to former Stanley Woodworking owner R. Thomas Fitzgerald, the Brubakers purchased Wood-Metal in Selinsgrove in August. The business was owned for years by the late Robert Gronlund, who was at the helm of the former Wood-Mode Inc. in Kreamer when that business abruptly shut down after 77 years and put nearly 1,000 people out of work in May 2019.

Fitzgerald told The Daily Item last month that the Brubakers owe him $1.7 million for Stanley Woodworking and he doesn’t expect the business will be able to survive losing “key” customers.

Meanwhile, the Brubakers face scrutiny from the state Attorney General’s Office which this week confirmed it had received insurance fraud complaints.

They’ve also been evicted from two of their three Snyder County business locations.

Last month, Dennis Van, owner of the Freeburg plant where William Penn operated, obtained a judgment in district court against the Brubakers, ordering them to pay $12,000 and vacate the 401 E. Front St. property. Van said the couple owed $78,000 and he hadn’t been paid rent since October.

Bill French, a Middleburg businessman who owns the 100 E. Sherman St., Selinsgrove property where Wood-Metal is located, obtained a similar eviction judgment in Snyder County Court against the Brubakers last month. French said he is owed rent in excess of $40,000.

Deb Brubaker is scheduled to appear Wednesday before a district judge in Middleburg on a misdemeanor charge of passing a bad check. She’s accused of paying a $700 propane bill to Moyer’s Gas with a worthless check in October.

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