Wood-Mode completing abandoned orders, planning to hire workers

Robert Inglis/The Daily Item Scott Sprenkle loads up a customers order at Wood Mode on Monday afternoon.

KREAMER — Three months after Wood-Mode abruptly shut its doors, putting more than 900 workers out of a job, cabinets are going back out the door.

The first customer arrived on Thursday to pick up custom cabinets from the Kreamer company that shut its doors in mid-May. More stopped by on Monday and new owner Bill French and his production manager Bob Gessner were more than glad to see product moving out to customers.

"Some people have waited three months," French, who took ownership of the company last week from the Gronlund family, said. "Some people have moved on, they had delivery dates they had to meet so they had to find another company. It's amazing how much we have to ship out that people have ordered."

Gessner said seeing customers in the building shows just how valued the Wood-Mode name and product are within the industry.

"In one sense, people know we've put a lot of work in to get this ready for the customer and they were holding out hope the business would restart because of the product we offer," Gessner said. "It's good to know we are capable of a product that a lot of our competition can't compete with."

French and Gessner are still forming plans to hire between 200 and 500 employees as production resumes in the next few weeks.

"I feel excited about what is in front of us," French said. "I don't know what the future will bring. We will see how it turns out. We want to be a stable company. It's an investment and we want to make an investment in the community."

Gessner said the company will begin developing a list of individuals who are interested in working for the new company. Gessner said his voicemail box is full from the number of calls he has already received.

Officials will review the skill sets and work history before moving on potential hires. 

"That will determine who will be the first coming back," Gessner said. "It's a challenging opportunity to make this company as successful as it can be."

Gessner and French expect maintenance workers to be among the first to return. Those employees can make sure the equipment is operational when the production staff return to work in a few weeks. 

"Right now we are finalizing the application process, creating benefits and wages packages so we can communicate to individuals when we reach out," Gessner said. "If someone is working for another company, we want to make sure to provide them as much information as possible so they can make the best decision."