Conestoga Wood Specialties Strategy May Work Against It

By Bill Esler | Posted: 07/01/2014 8:34AM


Conestoga Wood Specialties Anthony HahnAnthony Hahn and his family   Conestoga Wood Specialties owners received a favorable ruling in the Supreme Court yesterday, alleviating a threat of punishing fines on the health care front. It has little to do with wood products manufacture. That just happens to be the principal business of the plaintiffs in this case.

The widely-followed proceedings, one of the most-viewed series of stories at Woodworking Network, revolved around the Conestoga Wood's refusal to cover certain forms of birth control required by Obamacare.

The action by the Mennonite Hahn family, owners of this closely held, 900-employee wood components firm, could run against the interests of the family business, in the long run.

Of course, that is not the value by which the Hahn family pursued the case. On the other hand, there may have been an alternative approach that could satisfy both the family's moral condition, and meet the requirements of the health care program.

The court process was managed for Conestoga Wood Specialties by a religiously-oriented legal group with a social agenda, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which actively fund-raised as it pursued litigation, with Conestoga Wood Specialties as the test case.

How could this hurt Conestoga? Obviously this is a divisive issue - even the Supreme Court managed only to eke out a decision in a 5-4 vote. All three women justices voted in the minority.

There are many people on both sides of the divide. Many corporations, including publicly-traded companies, many closely-held firms and women-owned businesses, are customers of Conestoga Wood Specialties. Certainly there are some firms among these that will, in principal, be unable to do business with Conestoga, to the extent they are aware of this case.


About the Author

Bill Esler, Woodworking Network, WMS

Bill Esler

Bill Esler, Editorial Director, Woodworking Network Bill is responsible for overall content at Woodworking Network magazine, and related newsletters. Bill also manages event programs for Woodworking Network Live conferences at the Woodworking Machinery & Supplies Expo in Toronto and Cabinets & Closets Expo. He developing audience engagement programs using custom digital printing, live lead-generating events, custom websites, and custom digital and print content. Read Bill Esler's woodworking blogs. He can be reached at or follow him on Google+.

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Ed Strahota    
Mendota, IL  |  July, 02, 2014 at 09:51 AM

I think much of the media has gotten this wrong. The case revolved around 4 of the 20 contraceptive means within the ACA. They, along with Hobby Lobby, and apparently 49 other companies, have objected to the 4 because they are known to be abortifacients, and because of their Right to Life position their consciences called them to stand against this. It's not like their employees cannot get contraceptive services through their health providers. The news coverage on this issue was shameful, touting it as a move against women, against contraceptive rights, etc. In reality one could consider the Hahn and Green families heroes for standing up for their convictions. If they had lost the case it would have cost them dearly, they took a huge risk, and in the end they were vindicated. I hope the companies they deal with look at the whole picture, and choose to continue to work with them even if they choose to disagree. Thanks for posting!


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