Wood-Mode Abruptly Closes Doors
KREAMER, PA — Wood-Mode, for decades an industry pioneer that made a name as the leading brand of custom cabinetry in America, is out of business, closing its doors last week after notifying its nearly 1,000 employees that the 77-year-old company was closing immediately.
Employees, kitchen/bath dealers, sales reps and others – many of whom had been associated with Wood-Mode for years – were left in a state of shock and sadness, since the closure came so abruptly, in the midst of hopes that the iconic brand would be able to continue operations.
The Kreamer, PA-based Wood-Mode had struggled financially in recent years, and its challenges were well known within cabinet-industry circles. Over the past several months – and intensifying during the weeks prior to the company’s closure – Wood-Mode officials had been seeking financing and other options, including an injection of capital and a potential transaction that would have enabled the company to continue operations, according to spokesman David Scarr.
Those efforts collapsed, however, when an unidentified party with which the company had entered into a letter of intent to acquire the business “decided abruptly to not proceed with the transaction,” Scarr said. Several days later, Wood-Mode learned that its prime lender was “unwilling to provide normal funding” that would have enabled the company to continue operations while seeking other potential buyers, including one that submitted a letter of intent days before the closure, Scarr added.
As a result, Wood-Mode was left “with no choice but to make the difficult decision to wind down its operations,” Scarr said.
“After 77 years of business, the company and ownership truly regret the impact of this action to our employees, the community and our loyal customers and suppliers,” Wood-Mode said in a prepared statement. “We are extremely appreciative of everyone’s commitment and service to Wood-Mode throughout the years.”
Known for decades for its innovation, quality and craftsmanship, Wood-Mode – formally known as “Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry” – began operations in 1942 as Wood-Metal Industries, supplying cooks’ tables, pigeon coops, shell cases, ladders and other products for the military. The post-World War II housing boom, coupled with burgeoning demand, enabled the company to begin manufacturing kitchen cabinetry, using custom-production techniques that soon set the standard for the industry.
During the 1950s, Wood-Metal Industries introduced the concept of customized cabinet doors, and began experimenting with a widening range of finishes and materials. The company eliminated the word “Metal” from its name in 1956, and became the more family-friendly “Wood-Mode Kitchens.”
During the ’60s, and in the decades that followed, Wood-Mode became an iconic cabinet brand widely known for its commitment to product quality, customer service and craftsmanship and, along with other custom-cabinet suppliers, helped usher in an entirely new concept: a one-of-a-kind “custom-designed” kitchen that revolutionized the way cabinetry was manufactured, marketed and sold – no longer solely through lumber yards and mass-merchandising home centers, but through a national network of independent kitchen and bath dealers who offered personalized, professional design and installation service.
In the process, Wood-Mode became a true nationally distributed custom cabinet brand, in contrast to most custom-cabinet suppliers who market their cabinetry in a narrower geographic region.
In subsequent years, Wood-Mode expanded the use of its cabinetry from kitchens and bathrooms, to closets/wardrobes, entertainment areas, offices and other areas of the home.
The company marketed its products under two brand names: Wood-Mode and Brookhaven, a limited line of lower-priced cabinetry aimed at making Wood-Mode available to a wider audience of customers. The company’s product mix included a diverse collection of wood species, door styles, finishes and custom-design elements.
State resources will be made available for the nearly 1,000 employees left without jobs, according to Pennsylvania legislators, who said in a joint statement that laid-off employees will be provided with access to unemployment insurance, health and pension benefits, financial credit counseling, training programs, job search activities, education services and social service programs.
Charitable organizations are also working to assist with the needs of former Wood-Mode employees.
Seth Joseph, the director of Development and Marketing for the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way, said the organization will be working with the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce and other partners in meeting the former employees’ needs.
“Wood-Mode has been a Valley institution and generous community partner for nearly 80 years,” said Joseph, adding that he was “extremely saddened” to learn of the company’s closing.
“The company has provided thousands of jobs, and not just philanthropically supported many organizations and projects, but provided decades of inspired vision, leadership and volunteerism across our community,” Joseph observed.
“Hundreds of working families,” he said, “are hurting right now.”