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Posted April 1, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Cabinetmaker announces plant closings

American Woodmark in Berryville is closing
American Woodmark is closing plants in Berryville, shown above, and Moorefield, W.Va. Dennis Grundman/Daily

Company says less demand prompting halt at facilities in Berryville and Moorefield, W.Va.

By James Heffernan — jheffernan@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER — American Woodmark announced Tuesday that it will close its Berryville plant along with one of its Moorefield, W.Va., production facilities as demand for the cabinetmaker’s products continues to fall.

“While we have gained market share, the overall drop in consumer activity has created excess capacity that is simply too expensive to maintain,” American Woodmark President and CEO Kent Guichard said in a statement.

American Woodmark produces more than 350 lines of kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and its manufacturing network spans nine states, from Virginia to Arizona.

The company did not say how many workers will be affected by the closings, which are permanent. Human Resources Director Rick Hardy said in an e-mail Tuesday the figure will not be released “out of dignity and respect for our affected employees.”

As recently as last year, American Woodmark employed between 300 and 600 people in Clarke, making it the county’s third-largest employer behind Berryville Graphics and the public school system, according to state figures.

“It’s a sad day for the employees of that facility,” said John Staelin, chairman of the Clarke County Board of Supervisors.

The Moorefield plant is one of three American Woodmark facilities in Hardy County. The company is the county’s second-largest employer behind Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.

Both American Woodmark plants targeted for closure are outdated and inefficient, having been acquired from Boise Cascade Corp. in 1980, Hardy said.

Guichard said the fact that the aging facilities have remained competitive over the years is testament to the “hard work, dedication and resourcefulness” of American Woodmark employees.

The closings will save the company an estimated $20 million a year while retaining sufficient capacity to service American Woodmark customers for the foreseeable future, the company said.

The manufacturer also announced Tuesday it will idle its plant in Tahlequah, Okla., until consumer demand in the region improves.

“Our remaining network of eleven manufacturing facilities is well positioned to fully participate in a housing recovery on the other side of the economic cycle,” Guichard said.

American Woodmark posted break-even results for its most recent quarter as sales to homebuilders declined, although it reported a gain in sales to consumers as homeowners take on remodeling jobs.

Staelin said he is not sure about the company’s plans for the Berryville plant, but if it decides to sell the property, “it would create an opportunity to bring in some other businesses.”

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