The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

October 23, 2013

Wendell August on track for reopening

By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor

GROVE CITY AREA — Wendell August is on track for its planned grand reopening on Tuesday, said Will Knecht, the company’s president and owner.

Devastated by an accidental fire on March 6, 2010, at its original Grove City location, the metal giftware business has been setting its sights on opening a newly-built store, office and production center on Route 208 in Springfield Township.

“We’re working around-the-clock to make this happen,’’ Knecht said.

A public ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, which Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to attend. However, a “soft’’ opening of Wendell August’s new 40,000-square-foot complex is set for Thursday.

Since the fire, the business has continued operating in temporary sites with the main store in Pine Township and the office, workshop and distribution center located at the former Bessemer building in Grove City. While the fire destroyed much of the company’s former Madison Avenue building, the molds used to make its renowned giftware merchandise were saved, allowing the business to continue on.  

The company prepared for the new opening by building up its inventory levels and, unfortunately, it’s possible a few employees could be laid off in November as a result of that, Knecht said. Initially, six production workers were targeted for possible layoffs but that number now stands at five. Employees were notified of the possible layoffs a few weeks ago.

“I’m hoping that none of this has to happen and we’re looking for every possible way to keep all the people working,’’ he said.

In all there are about 35 production workers who are represented by the United Steelworkers. The company employs a total of 110.

The company was founded by Wendell McMinn August in Brockway, Pa., and moved the company to Grove City in 1932.