Cumberland Times-News

Local News

December 14, 2011

American Woodmark closing Moorefield plant

Factory in Rawlings safe for now, local economic development officials believe

MOOREFIELD, W.Va. — The announcement Tuesday by American Woodmark that it will close its Moorefield cabinet manufacturing facility in April will eliminate 400 hourly and 26 salaried positions, according to Mallie Combs, executive director of the Hardy County Development Authority.

“We were devastated to get the news,” Combs said Wednesday. “The governor right now is attempting to contact American Woodmark’s president to see if there is some way we can keep the plant operational in some capacity.”

The plant is located in the Moorefield Industrial Park. The cabinet maker will also close a lumber operation in Hazard, Ky.

The Washington Business Journal, in an article by Jeff Clabaugh, reported Tuesday evening that the company will also freeze its employee benefit pension plans in May, shifting instead to higher company contributions to 401(k) plans.

American Woodmark CEO Kent Guichard was quoted as saying, “although we have consistently gained market share, the overall drop in consumer activity has created excess capacity that is simply too expensive to maintain.”

Matt Diaz, the director of Allegany County’s economic development department, said the last news he heard about American Woodmark’s facility at Rawlings was good.

“We had a business retention visit there in October and everything we heard was positive,” he said. Diaz said his most recent numbers show the Allegany County facility employs 380.

Mark Julian, director of business and industrial development for the West Virginia Development Office, said a rapid response team exists within the state’s Department of Commerce to assist those who would lose jobs. Training and education are two of the options.

Combs said the affected work force comes from throughout the region. “We have workers from Keyser, for example,” she said.

Combs said, too, that a second American Woodmark plant in Hardy County, located at the Robert C. Byrd Industrial Park, will continue operating as usual.

Officials at American Woodmark’s corporate headquarters in Winchester, Va., did not immediately respond to a Times-News email request for comment.

The Associated Press reported that the firm attributes the plant closures to a continuing slump in housing construction.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

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